Review: The Beguiler by Suzanne Jackson

Perpetual Man

Tim James
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This is not my normal type of book, which is probably why I enjoyed it as much as I did. Change, as they say, is as good as a rest.

If I may take a moment to say, and it is not often that I like to fall into this pit, after all you cannot judge a book by the cover, the cover does pay a large part in whether a book should be read or not. And this cover does both the book and author a disservice.

As far as the art goes, it is a beautiful piece, but it recalls the covers that smothered Mills & Boon and Barbara Cartland novels, the demure woman caught in the strong arms of her lover…
The Beguiler is so much more than that – it deserves that recognition from the get go, from that first thing that a potential reader sees so it draws them in…

To me this was an original fantasy novel, with intriguing characters, unique magic system and a familiar, different setting. Although I would hesitate to make this a definitive comparison, I would say that the story has a lot more to Austen’s seminal Pride and Prejudice than to torrid romance novels.

The story follows its heroine, Rebecca as she is thrown into an unexpected existence. She lives in a world where witches are seen as evil things, to be reviled, hunted down and killed for the titillation of the masses. Reminiscent perhaps, of puritan times, with some witchhunters thrown in, but something that is underlined when her close friend is caught and hung, before her already despicable brother deliberately lets the cat out of the bag. It seems that Rebecca is a witch and suddenly she is on the run for her life.

While on the run she meets Lord Tarndel, a stuck up self-important type, cold and distant, who is not only a romantic foil for Rebecca, but also opens the lid on Witches and what goes on when they are hunted and hung… this is the point where the ideas really begin to coalesce and we see that there is a lot more going on than just romance.

The witches have different powers, Rebecca it seems, is a Beguiler, someone who has the ability to influence the feelings of others and as she becomes a victim of another beguiler, then begins to learn how to use her powers grows into something quite special.

The characters are well drawn and for me those I did not like was because they came across as genuinely nasty or narrowminded people. You wanted the main characters to thrive and find a way through the mess that their lives have become and the world in general. It was easy to get frustrated with them because they were doing what they thought was for the best, without taking the time to see things from other perspectives. That speaks or real people to me.

So, plenty of good ideas, great characters, some nice ideas and plot twists. If I was going to pick a fault with it (other than the cover) it would be the romance between Rebecca and Tarndel was too drawn out, too obvious, but this is only s minor niggle, something that is probably more to do with me than the text.

Well worth a read!

The Beguiler is available on Amazon UK and Amazon.com.
 

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