Jeannie Wycherley’s debut novel is one packed full of creepy, witchy goodness. A great oak tree houses an even greater darkness and it is up to Heather Keynes to put an end to the evil Aefre!
Tormented soul, Heather Keynes, befriends a small group of “guardians”. The guardians are watchers and protectors against evil and have lived for many a year. Aefre is the crone, a dark witch growing ever stronger in power. She seeks to free herself and her sisters so that they can wreak havoc on the residents of Abbot’s Cromleigh. And so begins a battle of good vs evil!
Crone is a strong debut novel from Jeannie Wycherley. The writing is good, it has a nice flow to it and the pacing is solid. The atmosphere is suitably creepy and dark. It features some vivid dreamlike imagery and some great moments of horror, particularly in the latter parts of the book. The characters are well-drawn and strong enough for you to invest your time in. The main character is Heather Keynes. Heather is still reeling after losing her son in a car accident, but not to the point of which she becomes annoying in her grief. She is fragile when talking about her son, Max, but strong when facing down the evil crone, Aefre. The crone, Aefre, ticks all of the boxes for this reader as a great villain: evil beyond compare and able to shape-shift into a stunning seductress, bringing men under her sexual spell with ease. She is a driven, vile character and a real scene stealer! The guardians are also kind of cool, and have a real magical, wise old essence about them. I also loved the idea of the small white cottage which brings about Heather’s first contact with the guardians. The cottage is a sort of safe place and it’s use in the story goes against the old Hansel & Gretel fairy tale in which it was the evil crone that inhabited the cottage. I don’t know if this was intentional, but either way I dug it.
The Devonshire countryside provides a suitable backdrop for a story of this type with its winding country roads and quaint villages. There is something about folk horror tales set in the English countryside that I really dig, and Crone is no exception. I really enjoyed this book. Witchcraft and witches have always held a fascination for me and Crone is a really good horror read. For a debut novel, it is impressive, and I will be looking out for more from Jeannie Wycherley in the future. Splendid cover art, too!
4/5 broomsticks from the Grim Reader.
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