A Dangerous Place
Author: Robin Herne
ISBN # 978-1-78279-211-6
“A Dangerous Place” is a series of stories set in the same place (Castle Hill, in Ipswich, located in the south of England), but spread out over a bit of time (two thousand years). I was drawn to this book because I love a good mystery, and am very attracted to the esoteric, magical side of things. Each tale is a story in and of itself, referencing changing religions and beliefs (such as Iron-Age Druidry, Anglo-Saxon Heathenry, Victorian Spiritualism, and modern neo-paganism. We see the old fashioned chase combined with a dash of mysticism and psychology. Go Miss Marple!
In his introduction, Herne talks about ecopsychology, a branch of psychology that focuses on the impact that a place can have on humans that spend time there. The place itself is filled with spirits that are “of” that place. These spirits interact with the humans within their territory, and the humans interact with them in turn. There is a relationship forged between the two – the spirits of a place, and the humans inhabiting a place. If we all think back through our lives, we know this is very true. Like attracts like – some places are joyful, while others are sinister. It is simply their nature.
Herne notes that whatever dwells in the fictional Castle Hill is angry and vindictive, and spreads its energy rapidly amongst those who live there. The book begins with the story of Druids, and the gruesome death of an old Druidic teacher. The dynamics between the characters are quite interesting, and the setting very plausible.
The stories continue with a merchant’s wife committing suicide in the literal area where a Druid alter from the first story was located. The merchant’s wife was in fear, hearing the voices of sacrificial victims howling for justice. Each story features well defined characters, and moral dilemma, within the confines of their own time.
Interesting threads join these stories … talk of Runes, the “old” ways, magical symbols, herbal wisdom, and more. Guilds and craftsman, and the social structure of each time period are clearly set out.
At the end of each story Herne has placed notes on the background of the time period involved, and how the characters fit into it. These notes give the reader perspective into the tone of the stories, and how they relate to the town of Ipswich, where the stories take place.
One of the things that intrigued me about this book was the writing style, which was not all first person. Herne notes that he did this because he likes to experiment, and short stories are great places to experiment. Some of these stories have appeared in magazines, newsletters, and even on the radio. They combine to make a great collection, and a great read!
© 2000 – 2013 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited in any venue without the written permission of the author.