Review: ‘Bibliomancer’ by Frances Evelyn

Bibliomancer by [Frances Evelyn]

Genre: speculative fiction

Description: The book is set in Oakham, principal town of Rutland (the smallest county), about 20 miles from Leicester, in the Midlands in Britain. It begins with a sensitively handled death, and consequent grief. Thereafter it settles on Emily’s volunteer work, reading to patients at a local hospice, and her best friend Lauren’s struggle with baby blues and losing her mum, who was also a sort-of mum to Emily. We watch the two young women gradually rally. When they do, they find their lives have quite changed. Of course. A threshold has been crossed. They are women now in a way neither was before. Thereafter other thresholds are crossed, experimentally and then more boldly. The book gets darker. The two women get more self-reliant. But is the darkness unstoppable now?

Author: Frances Evelyn is a British author living now in Rutland. She spent 20 rewarding years as an English teacher, then several interesting years in management.

 In her ‘The Changeling Tree’ series (currently four books), Evelyn combines tangled time-lines, family saga, and Faerie. There is also what I believe is a novella called Sarah Ward and the Lyddington Djinn. Bibliomancer is a standalone book, and her most recent.

 Appraisal: This is a clever book. The tagline to the title is “time to choose your last book”. For people who love to read (and we are those people, right?) that is chilling. This is also a book which celebrates the power of books and reading. In this book – OK, I’m actually going to use these words in the same sentence – ‘contemporary British fantasy’ is going to appeal to the same people who enjoy Jane Austen and George Eliot. And no, this is not some sort of zombie mashup. So what is going on?

The premise is new to me. A fresh plot does not, frankly, come along very often. Half a dozen a year, if that. This is one of those half dozen. So I am going to tread very carefully, so as not to drop any spoilers.

It conceals its freshness under a Red Riding Hood opening which skips along like women’s fiction, giving no hint of the wolf to come. Then it has a short flirtation with police procedural. Thereafter, the wolf lifts its lip to show its teeth and the story hurls itself towards a most satisfying climax in a quite unlooked-for direction.

The blurb on Kindle calls this book ‘contemporary British fantasy’, I’ve deemed it speculative fiction above. It could also quite legitimately strut its stuff as science fiction. Suffice it to say that there is plenty of weirdness, which is thought-provoking. If you enjoy being provoked in that way I believe you will enjoy this book.

BTW – there are other books with the title ‘Bibliomancer’. I have no idea what they are like.

This review was originally prepared for Big Al & Pals. I received a complimentary book file for the purpose.


Published by Judi Moore

Hi there, I hope you find something to interest you here. In December 2017 I published my fourth book – ‘Wonders will never cease’. It’s a satirical campus novel set in the fictional Ariel University in 1985. If you enjoyed Tom Sharpe’s Porterhouse novels, Willy Russell’s ‘Educating Rita’, David Lodge’s campus novels or Malcolm Bradbury’s ‘The History Man’ back in the day, you may enjoy revisiting the ivory towers of 1980s’ academe thirty years on. See what you think. “It is December, 1985. The year is winding gently towards its close until Fergus Girvan, a Classicist at Ariel University, finds his research has been stolen by the man who is also seeking to steal his daughter. But which man is, actually, the more unscrupulous of the two? And is there hope for either of them?” In the autumn of 2015 I published a volume of short fiction: 'Ice Cold Passion and other stories'. I am also the author of novella 'Little Mouse', a shortish piece of historical fiction which I published in 2014 and, a sequel to it, 'Is death really necessary?', my eco thriller set in the near future and which, confusingly, I published in 2009. All the books are available from all good online bookshops and FeedARead on paper, and as e-books on Kindle. On a semi-regular basis, and about a month after the event, I post here reviews which I do for Big Al & Pals, the premier reviewer of indie books, based in the States. My interests tend to thrillers, SF, magic realism and other quirky stuff. On this blog are also posted the reviews I did for Leighton Buzzard Music Club over some five years up to the end of 2015. LBMC present annual seasons of eight monthly chamber music concerts at the Library Theatre in Leighton Buzzard, Bucks. They select young musicians just beginning to make their name - and the concerts are usually magnificent. I was very proud to be associated with them. I review other music, books, theatre and exhibitions which I've particularly enjoyed. BTW - it says the link to Facebook is broken. I dispute that. Click it and see, why not?

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