Candlenight by Phil Rickman
Sep 08, 2006 byWulf Forrester-Barkerbook
As a musician, I know that there are numerous ways to end a song. Sometimes a simple cadence, sometimes a grandiose rock progression (crying out for pyrotechnics) or perhaps an extended coda with a gentle fade. If you don’t have a definite ending and the song just stops, the audience is left unsatisfied.
That is how I felt about Candlenight by Phil Rickman. Overall, it was a fantastic story set in an apparently idyllic Welsh village that turns out to be a less than healthy environment for English visitors. The quality of the writing seemed to be all that I had expected from Rickman (based on having read all of his Merrily Watkins series).
It doesn’t give too much away to say that the story builds to a climax on a dark and disturbing night; it is, after all, a horror novel. However, it seemed strangely inconclusive. Some strands were resolved, albeit with loose and quickly tied knots, but much was left open. It felt as if the book ended a chapter or so too early.
Until that point, I had been enjoying the rich storytelling, spiced with Welsh phrase and fable. With a whimper, the book finishes at about 2am, sadly failing to press on until the dawning of the following day. I would highly recommend it to readers who are better at starting than finishing; for everyone else, please understand that the ending is an aberration compared to the better-crafted standard of Rickman’s other works.