Phil Rickman is an English author with a background in music and a deep knowledge of the traditions, legends and atmospheres of that region of the British Isles straddling the England-Wales border.
In this territory Rickman has set his series of novels focused on the Anglican exorcist Merrily Watkins, mixing detective fiction with a supernatural that is more hinted at than made explicit. In this Rickman is admirable author in his ability to intercept two sectors of the public – that of horror and that of the British-style mystery (not necessarily a cozy), which are usually considered to be mutually exclusive.
Rickman is also the author of a series of mystery novels set in Elizabethan England and featuring Dr John Dee and the Earl of Essex as a team of sui generis, sort-of-X-files investigators.
At the same time, Rickman produced a number of stand-alone novels, more frankly horrific and generally ascribable to that typically British genre of “folk horror” or “rural horror” that is going through a renaissance in these last years1.
December belongs to this batch of stand-alone books. I originally reviewed it last year, for an Italian magazine – a friend borrowed me her copy, and I was able to meet the publisher’s expectations. I recently bought the book (together with four other stand-alone Rickman books), and here goes my review – suitably expanded and updated. Continue reading