Review: A Gathering of Crows

A Review of Brian Keene’s A Gathering of Crows, with Spoilers

Obviously I have had a lifelong fascination with occult detective fiction. From Abraham Van Helsing to Harry D’Amour, John Silence to Adam Sinclair, Simon Iff to John Constantine — the pantheon of awe inspiring characters who have worn the mantle of occult detective is long and varied, with many an author dipping their quill into the well and weaving their own particular brand of magic through this sub-genre.

Fan favorite Brian Keene entered the fray in his 2008 Leisure release Ghost Walk, introducing us to Levi Stoltzfus, an ex-Amish magus skilled in the ways of powwow folk magic accentuated by a command of various other magical disciplines. A servant of God, Levi wields this impressive array of occult knowledge in a never-ending battle against the forces of darkness.

Ghost Walk was far and away my favorite of Keene’s books, primarily due to my immediate affection for Levi Stoltzfus. A Gathering of Crows, apparently the author’s final Leisure publication, narrowly supplants Ghost Walk and cements my growing obsession with the character.

A Gathering of Crows finds Keene at the top of his game. He has always had a knack for populating his books with interesting characters and you can expect more of the same here. The residents of Brinkley Springs come to life, even when they are presented as simple fodder for his monstre du jour.

And what a monster it is… Five shape-shifting, soul-eating revenants with a perchance for clothing themselves in the guise of black crows. They had once been human men, settlers of fabled Roanoke Island who turned to dark magic when times became perilous.  Their actions drew the attention of Meeble, one of the Thirteen, and they have served this fell spirit ever since, allowed on occasion to manifest and lay waste to small, isolated communities through the use of a devilish soul cage to trap the populous within the confines of their residency — becoming food for these fiendish and malefic entities.

Therein lies the secret to Keene’s success. A Gathering of Crows is filled with fascinating additions to the author’s Labyrinth Mythology. With each outing it seems another layer to this complex mythos is peeled back and revealed and fans of this pernicious confection are in for an exciting thrill-ride into other worlds and alternate realities.

Through it all, Levi Stoltzfus stands firm, steadfast and sure. Hints to his back story and the promise of more adventures to come make this ex-Amish magus one of the most compelling characters I’ve read in years. I eagerly look forward to Levi’s continuing story to be unfurled in Bad Ground, The Witching Tree, and an as yet titled novella.

A Gathering of Crows can be ordered HERE.  Visit Brian’s website and The Keenedom for more information.

2 Responses to “Review: A Gathering of Crows”

  1. […] With a mass market paperback release from Leisure, a SciFi Book Club hardcover release, and a stunning limited edition hardcover from Thunderstorm Books’ Maelstrom Imprint, Keene’s A Gathering of Crows took the world by storm and established Occult Detective Levi Stoltzfus as one of the preeminent characters in the genre. Read my review HERE… […]

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