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Witch's Warning - Aberrations 2 - review

Joseph Delaney has written spooky books for 15 years and of course like pretty much any author lots of WiP in store...

I am so lucky, he writes mostly about 'The county' or 'Lancashire' as most know it. And I live here and my bookshop was one of the very first to read and enjoy and then meet him, he's fiercely loyal and therefore we have built up a superb rapport for doing numerous events and touring with him when he has a new book out.

His award winning  (and Hollywood filmed as 'Seventh Son' series) Wardstone Chronicles aka The Spook's series are totally untouchable, there really is nothing as good, some like Shan can do a good line in self effacing horror and some can layer the darkness, but to delve into real mythos and create something so uniquely aware of it's setting and meaning is just breathtaking.

The film didn't remotely do his craft justice, it went way over the top and just as much film does relied on staged action and disbelief, rather than actual belief, because that is what makes a book truly wonderful, when it reads as though it is real... like the greats, Narnia etc.

It's tricky to pitch ages and involvement sometimes, there is the murky ground of MG-YA and really, why? why do we need or pretend to need labels at all. I read Jaws at 12 and managed to wade through the bits I didn't need/like, I was pretty desperate for more shark and gore but actually, on reflection, the actual story was the thing and the characters and their reality.

So, we return to a new Lancashire, not even linked to the Spook, but similar in feel. Centred on his own beloved Preston and Lancaster, with beautiful nods to arcane folk tales of the region riddled with boggarts as we know, but here, apparitions or rather aberrations, things unmentionable created by an insidious creeping sentient menace of mist, menace and death that is the Shole...

Joe uses the old term, Fey for those with power over dark, it's an old term part Irish part elsewhere, he adds a structure of science and reading in with the Castle Corpus, the last bastions of hope striving frantically in Lancaster Castle to find answers and methods to deal with the creeping destruction coming ever nearer. We have 70 years of backstory entwined into the opening chapters, something Joe has cleverly sown into minds with his talks over the last year or so since we went out with Beast Awakens. You don't have to read that first, but I certainly would recommend you do, obviously it does get you into the world and introduces the main characters so far, but as with any brilliant series the beauty is in just reading what you do and deciding as and when to go forwards and backwards. 

We have arguably the last gate grubs, they are much needed but few remain who could even do the job, let alone survive it. You must be Fey to enter the Shole, in itself it can't harm you, everyone mere and mortal either dies brutally and horribly, luckily pretty instantly or is changed into an abomination of untold terror and hunger for flesh and blood, ravenous and relentless in it's search for flesh. You enter through a mystical silver gate, controlled by a gatekeeper who is ever vigilant and must be ready to spring the device that shimmers and glistens above the portal, it can have catastrophic consequences... you'll see.

We have a Grey Library, boffins and Mancers and more... this time we really get to meet the aberrations and they are legion, we get to dip into the voices and control of the Shole as it enlivens some of it's darker denizens such as Viper and Old Nell. There is a superb sequence with the Segantii bog queen, it just is sensational. Joe's ability to literally thrill, chill and drill into your mind on every page is a rare talent, most authors rely on dips and troughs to ease you into their world, Joe just slams your face in the dirt and says suck it up and get on with it, a throwback to the Apprenticeships of yore and necessity of this reality here, time is so important as the counter balance of the stealth and ability to act when needed means it's pretty much like trench warfare.

The Shole with it's endless multitude of dark and nasty creations is creeping and then surging north, we don't yet fully know why or how, but Lick and her boffins are doing tireless research into it and trying to develop tools to combat it. Be sure, whatever it touches it changes or keeps hidden for later.

If you want to read something you would have loved at 11 or have children to entice into dealing with peril and action and a level of gore that is more than acceptable because it's done in such a clever and knowing way, then you really must become fans, there are 2 million in the UK and over 5 million elsewhere, and yet as others say why aren't children's books seen and reviewed more? I'd love any followers to try and RT and share when I and others review, we try and deal with the behind the scenes and nudge encouragement as often we are aiming for new readers not fans to agree or disagree with...

So, we have dead characters who may be able to come back, but will they be on our side? The Castle guards and couriers are wary, but at times needs outweigh trust. We are drawn ever more to see and do what Crafty does, his worries over his lost family are lovely touches in the midst of such constant adrenaline fuelled action. He is resourceful and brave and resilient beyond his years. We delve into the system of the castle ruled by the entrenched Duke and his deep rooted problems, we have rules and mystery over the Grey Hoods... then we have the need to constantly enter and search in the Shole and more worryingly it coming and enshrouding the Castle and summoning it's control and array of delicious but deadly beasts.

The dialogue crackles and delights, the plot is mind-bendingly good, the characters are instantly real and the world is one we are drawn into and trapped ever more, reaching for a way to escape, but it really is all encompassing and now we must wait for book 3.... 

Joe is touring for the next 3 weeks, I'll be with him for a fair bit of it... so orders can be taken for the 2 Aberrations at £5 each and Spook's and less we forget Arena 13 at £6 each... simply as always ask and Paypal... and please spread the word, I can offer any book by request, I just don't have a walled presence anymore, I also do my own talks and workshops and take many authors out into schools/libraries... Thanks!