Review: Ghosts in the Snow

A while back on the advice of AWelkin, I picked up a copy of Ghosts in the Snow. I read it, loved it, got distracted and never wrote up any kind of review. A couple of weeks later, I read again. I still loved it but I still didn’t write up a review of it. Sometimes, life just works against you. *sigh*

I think the best description of Ghosts in the Snow, by Tamara Siler Jones, that I’ve heard is “forensic fantasy”. It’s got ghosts, magical items, foreign religions and gruesome murders. Dubric Bryerly is the Castellan1 of Castle Faldorrah and it is his duty to keep the peace. Recently, a serial killer has been stalking serving maids and killing them, one after another. The troubling part for everyone is that no one has seen the killer. The real trouble for Dubric is the ghosts of the slain are haunting him.

Unlike many of the fantasy authors that I’ve read; Ms. Jones doesn’t try to beat it into your skull that this is a fantasy novel. Though there are ghosts and magic, these are presented more as facts of life than as extraordinary things that you must pay attention to. I find this method to be both a more realistic2 & a more enjoyable approach. But it’s more than just her approach to describing the fantasy elements that makes me really enjoy Ms. Jones book. It’s the wonderful characters.

  • Dubric: a combination of kindly old uncle, drill sergant & private eye.
  • Dien: Dubric’s right-hand man. A bit of a bruiser, but with a big heart
  • Nella: An innocent trapped in the middle of the vicious murders
  • Lars: The unwanted son of a nobleman who works for Dubric and strives to make his family proud.

It’s an amazing piece of work and I give it 5 out of 5 stars. I highly recommend you pick it up and read it; preferably leaving your weekend free, so you can finish it in one sitting.

1Dictionary.com defined castellan as “The keeper or governor of a castle.” For readers of Ghosts in the Snow, it’s better to think of it as chief of police combined with head detective.
2 Though I’m not entirely sure that it is proper to call an approach to writing fantasy,”realistic”.

3 Comments

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I’m finishing up this book now, pressed into my hands by friends I met gaming in college. I was happy to see you’d reviewed it — I was going to recommend it to you!

I agree it’s a great book, kind of CSI-meets-midieval fantasy. I also agree that the fantasy aspect is fairly low-key in this first book, something I pointed out to others I’ve told about the book.

One of the most interesting lines is by Dubric who, upon seeing particularly disturbing ghost manifestations, thinks, “It was almost enough to drive a sane man back to religion.”

I have been trying to find other people who read this so I could talk about it – what a GREAT book! Haven’t read anything so fresh in the fantasy genre for ages.

I especially loved that the fantasy elements were so subtle, and that all of the characters had such big histories that we just got hints about.

I just entered a competition on the author’s website, http://www.tamarasilerjones.com, to win an advance signed copy of the next book – you should check it out (but if you beat me to one of those prizes I’ll be upset! 🙂

Phil

Hmm, I’ll have to check out that contest and give it a shot. Also, in case you missed it in her blog; the author plans on attending ICON. I wonder if she’ll be willing to sign copies of her book?

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