Philip Entwistle doesn’t believe in God and he certainly doesn’t believe in witches. But all that changes when the mild mannered history professor goes up for promotion and needs a Hail Mary to advance his career. Finding himself at the center of a trumped up sexual assault charge that nearly cost him his job, deliverance comes in the form of the occult as he researches the life of the famed English explorer, Sir Francis.
The book is full of delightful surprises, starting with the poem in the table of contents. Easy to read prose speaks to the heart of our humanity. Never shying away from difficult questions, the author takes the reader on a journey through time as Sir Francis’s experiences cause Philip to question his own doubts about religion, “After all, I am just a crazy man in the desert, hearing voices. Isn’t that how religions start?” And then moves on to confront the stigmas of interracial marriages, “He has gone native, they will say and sneer. And I have. Gladly, with all my heart.”
By bringing the characters to life on the page, I felt Sir Francis’s pain when he loses his beloved Taj and cried when Sir Francis met his eventually end. With Philip’s research complete, so is book one of The Guardian series. But, not all the loose ends are tied up. Was that a djinn on the counter? To find out I’ll just have to wait for book two, Blood in the Snow, which I would order in advance if I could only figure out how.
The down side of this book was that there wasn’t more to it. A slower plotline would tease the reader and build anticipation. As it was, the author was racing off toward the climax; good if you want a quick read, but when the book ended I couldn’t help but think only one of us had been fully satisfied. It’s left me not so patiently waiting for the next book.