Review: The Lost Child of Lychford by Paul Cornell

Posted by DarkChaplain at 10/25/2016
It’s December in the English village of Lychford – the first Christmas since an evil conglomerate tried to force open the borders between our world and… another.

Which means it’s Lizzie’s first Christmas as Reverend of St. Martin’s. Which means more stress, more expectation, more scrutiny by the congregation. Which means… well, business as usual, really.

Until the apparition of a small boy finds its way to Lizzie in the church. Is he a ghost? A vision? Something else? Whatever the truth, our trio of witches (they don’t approve of “coven”) are about to face their toughest battle, yet!
I've finished this one back in August but figured I should post my review closer to release. The book's out on November 1st, just barely scaping by Halloween, but if you're looking for something spooky for the season, this should be good.

The Story:
"It’s December in the English village of Lychford – the first Christmas since an evil conglomerate tried to force open the borders between our world and… another.
Which means it’s Lizzie’s first Christmas as Reverend of St. Martin’s. Which means more stress, more expectation, more scrutiny by the congregation. Which means… well, business as usual, really.
Until the apparition of a small boy finds its way to Lizzie in the church. Is he a ghost? A vision? Something else? Whatever the truth, our trio of witches (they don’t approve of “coven”) are about to face their toughest battle, yet!"

Disclaimer
I received an ARC for this book, and read the prequel, Witches of Lychford, in preparation for this one. Also, I am still disappointed by the author's use of blocklists on Twitter. Those may both be factors that influenced this review, so keep them in mind.

The Review:
The Lost Child of Lychford arrived in my mailbox a few months back, and since I had already planned on reading Witches of Lychford anyway, I figured this was worth reading and reviewing. With all the setup done in Witches, I ended up loving The Lost Child of Lychford more than I did its predecessor. Not only does it fix some of the complaints I had about the previous book, but it also turned into something genuinely creepy.

My biggest disappointment with Witches has got to be the lack of payoff for Lizzie. The new reverend of Lychford had some great early parts, but the conclusion saw her as a bystander for the most part. This novella puts her front and center, to my delight. It confronts her with her own insecurities and the pressure of the holiday season, and throws a wrench into christmas for all involved. While, of course, her friend Autumn is a vital part as well, it is Lizzie who steals the show and comes out the strongest in my eyes.

With preparations for christmas piling up and a couple wanting to marry on the day of days, the reverend is being overwhelmed and frustrated. Songs on the radio annoy her and the recent closeness between Autumn and the old witch Judith leaves her a bit sidelined again. Things just ramp up when a ghostly child starts appearing before her, seemingly asking for help. According to Judith, it might be nothing at all, or an echo of horrors to come for Lychford. It is up to the trio to figure it out and prevent things from escalating to a point of no return.

While this premise is pretty simple, it does the job. It draws the characters in and serves as grounds for big character development and dark mystery. Things are looking really grim for Lychford this time, more so than in Witches, and the tension is building from start to finish. Not only is Lizzie struggling with her personal and professional life, but also with faith and the demands of the strange couple wanting to marry on Christmas Eve. Autumn has to find balance between pursuits of love and friendship, getting herself into awkward situations but also allowing for some acts of heroism, and Judith has to learn to let down her guard around her new friends and reveal parts of her past in the process.
It is an all-around satisfying development for the trio. With the necessary build-up out of the way last time, The Lost Child allows us to get more intimate with its characters, while getting us spooked.

I'm not going to lie: I was halfway through the novella, reading here and there while out or before bed, when I hit a point where I just could not sleep until I had finished the book. The plot got out of hand, bone-chilling and exciting enough to keep me up. I just had to see the conclusion of it all, and how the trio would get out of the mess that was unfolding before them. With Lizzie being the key character, I was wondering how Cornell would play off her faith against the impending doom, and ended up loving that part. Early suspicions exploded and elements new and old came together to make this a suitably halloweeny tale, even if it is set during the holiday season.

Without a doubt, you should read Witches of Lychford first. However, even if you were just about lukewarm on that, this would be a clear recommendation from me. It improves on a lot of aspects that I wasn't so sure about with Witches and tells a damn tense story that puts a new spin on what we'd expect from a christmas-themed story. I'd be happy to see more novellas to come in the future, though it will be tough to beat this one.

The Lost Child of Lychford on Goodreads

About the Author

I'm known as DarkChaplain across the internet, and call myself a passionate gamer and book enthusiast. I have been blogging mostly about games for a couple of years, but finally found my way to reviewing a different medium: Books. Honestly, I prefer that job so far.
Follow Me on Twitter @TheDarkChaplain


The Reading Lamp

0 comments:

Leave a Reply

DarkChaplain's bookshelf: read

The Dragon Engine
Tomb Raider II #7
Star Wars #22
Star Wars: The Force Awakens Adaptation #3
Deathwatch: The Last Guardian
The Harrowing
Whacky
The Awakening
Blackshield
Poe Dameron #5


DarkChaplain's favorite books »