Author: Charlie Fletcher
Number of Pages: 448 (Paperback)
Published: 4th November 2014 by Orbit
Genre: Fantasy, Urban
Only five still guard the border between the worlds. And when they fall, so do we all… The Oversight is a gothic fantasy that will appeal to fans of Neil Gaiman, Philip Pullman and Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell
“The end always comes faster than you think.”
Once there were hundreds of members of the Oversight, the brave souls who guard the borders between the mundane and the magic. Now there are only five. And their numbers are dwindling further still.
When a vagabond brings a screaming girl to the Oversight’s London headquarters, she might answer their hopes for a new recruit, or she could be the instrument of their downfall.
In his first novel for adults, Charlie Fletcher (The Stoneheart Trilogy) spins a tale of witch-hunters, supra-naturalists, mirror-walkers and magicians. Meet the Oversight, and remember: when they fall, so do we all. – from Goodreads
I’m so glad I found this book because I really enjoyed it. What a brilliant read!
It’s mystery, magic, fantasy, historical and carnival in rolled into one in an engrossing, immersive un-putdown-able sprawling tale, and that’s just the first book. There will be more!! (for which I am incredibly happy and waiting with anticipation.)
The Oversight is a once-great secret society who reside in a dark, fantastically imagined version of London, where they guard the borders between the regular world and the magical world. They protect people from things they don’t even know exist but after the Disaster of previous years, their numbers have dwindled until only five remain, the Last Hand, who hold their position with bravery against a variety of threats, both human and other-worldly.
The Last Hand are a colourful mix of characters. They are a tightly-knit group, drawn together through their aim to protect the unsuspecting public, and include Emmet the golem, Cook – part cook, part pirate (love her), The Smith, and Hodge, who has an affinity with animals, particularly the Raven and a dog called Jed. The final two members are Sarah Falk and Jack Sharp, who are both intriguing. I thought they could share romantic ties but this isn’t really developed in The Oversight and is left very open-ended, although there’s something very heart wrenching about their connection even in the brief actions and reactions we get. I really hope the relationship between these two is developed further in the next book.
Into their midst, by coincidence or design comes a young girl, Lucy Harker, and it is her appearance that sets several main events in motion. Her eventual disappearance introduces the wonderfully appealing idea of mirror-walking. I found this absolutely fascinating; the scenes where it is features later on in the novel are great, and offer the potential for all manner of friends and foes to be lurking in these gaps and passages between places and worlds. There’s almost endless potential for development of this thread, and I’m really looking forward to finding out about the worlds beyond the mirrors.
The story has many twists and turns, and a number of challenges test the members of the Oversight, both individually and as a group. There is an array of enemies, plots and schemes, which all gradually become clearer as this involving story progresses.
The setting, an historical, gothic, fantasy version of London is wonderfully called to life, and I also really loved the chapters featuring the journey of a travelling circus across the countryside as it provided a total contrast to the darkness of London, but was equally as beguiling, and introduced a host of new characters.
The book becomes fast paced as it races to the conclusion, and really sets things up for the next instalment, The Paradox, which I cannot wait to get my hands on so I can get back to this brilliant, vivid, dangerous world. This is exactly the type of fantasy I love to read with a vividly created world and a mass of interesting characters.
One last thing… “When they fall, so do we all” (has to be one of the best tag lines I’ve come across in a while, so couldn’t resist concluding with it).