Witches of Lychford

Witches of Lychford

Book - 2015
Average Rating:
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Traveler, Cleric, Witch. The villagers in the sleepy hamlet of Lychford are divided. A supermarket wants to build a major branch on their border. Some welcome the employment opportunities, while some object to the modernization of the local environment. Judith Mawson (local crank) knows the truth -- that Lychford lies on the boundary between two worlds, and that the destruction of the border will open wide the gateways to malevolent beings beyond imagination. But if she is to have her voice heard, she's going to need the assistance of some unlikely allies...--
Publisher: New York :, Tom Doherty Associates, LLC,, 2015
Edition: First edition
Description: 144 pages ; 21 cm
ISBN: 9780765385239
0765385236
Branch Call Number: Corn

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SLDESLIPPE
Dec 07, 2017

Withches of Lycheford is the story of a sleepy little English town deeply divided over a proposal to develop a new shopping center. Both sides are generally motivated by conflicting visions of how their town should be branded, with the notable exception of Judith Mawson – town crank and practicing witch. Judith knows the delicate forces preventing evil from overtaking Lycheford and how disruptive something as seemingly innocuous as a shopping center could be. As such, she grudgingly agrees to work alongside an eclectic group of Lycheford misfits to prevent the town from destruction.

At first glance it wasn’t hard to believe that author Paul Cornell has a background in television writing. The story is fast paced, and the climax felt less like a story arch and more like one of multiple story arches that will make up the series’ run. The stakes aren’t terribly high and the resolutions clearly established in a few short pages. Some of the most compelling scenes such as an act of atonement and rectification take place “off-camera”, as if Cornell were afraid of running up the special effects budget or going over his running time.

What surprised me though, was how much of the story was dominated by plot exposition in place of action and dialogue. The story’s protagonist Judith Mawson is established in the first few pages as “the town crank”, simply because Cornell says she’s the crank. She doesn’t snap at the kid who delivers the paper or chase the neighbour’s dog for taking a shit in her garden or pull any of the other stops that make bitter old ladies such a delight to read. This surprised me as Cornell was not only a television writer (on Doctor Who no less) but a respected comic book writer, another medium dominated by dialogue in place of exposition. I can only assume that Cornell was stranded without visual aids to tell his story and substituted action and dialogue with descriptive exposition.

This is a shame for two reasons. First off, it gives the reader little to discover as Cornell comes out and tells us exactly how to perceive each situation. More importantly, it makes for dull reading. The story features a host of interesting characters and it would have been fun to see them interact more with each other. When they finally do begin to work together in the second half there are some genuinely enjoyable exchanges, indicating that this series does have some potential. It’s just a shame that it took approximately half the running time to get there.

To be fair to Cornell, if this were a television series it is clearly the pilot and much of the plot concerns bringing our eclectic group of characters together. They are very diverse but complement each other nicely, making for a second coming of the “Scooby Gang” for any readers starving for a Buffy reboot. Now that they are together he can hopefully have them interact more in successive adventures, and make no mistake, there will be. The story concludes with some shameless sequel baiting inviting us to tune in next week for the thrilling conclusion, and you know what? I just might bite. I know I’ve been hard on this book but I think that if Cornell shifts his focus away from plot exposition in favor of character development, he just might make this series work.

l
lonewolf8
Feb 02, 2017

Had the potential to be far more creepy and suspenseful than it actually was. By the time you reach the end, you are wondering "is this all there is?"

b
bombers85
Feb 02, 2016

Short and sweet (and creepy). Would love to see a sequel!

JCLHelenH Dec 30, 2015

Having written for Doctor Who, Wolverine and Batman & Robin, Cornell writes beautifully. This fantastical tale is a perfect blend of witches and politics.

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