Extracts from professional, media reviews of Saxon’s Bane. See also readers’ reviews posted on Goodreads and Amazon.
In a thorough, balanced review in ‘This is Horror’ (click image to read full article), Ross Warren wrote:
..wonderful characterisation and an impeccable evocation of setting … a highly engrossing and accomplished narrative.
Overall Saxon’s Bane is very rewarding of the effort it demands of the reader’s concentration, providing a richly detailed and complex read that displays all the joys that wonderfully written prose can evoke. That this is a debut novel makes it all the more special and marks Geoffrey Gudgion as a very exciting writer to follow as his craft and storytelling talents evolve through forthcoming books. Saxon’s Bane is the book to thrust into the hands of any know-it-all who claims that genre fiction cannot be literary.
I’ll begin with a confession, I’ve been told its good for the soul. I have spent the last week agonising over how to write anything resembling a coherent review of this book. Not, I should stress, because the book is bad, quite the reverse in fact, the book is wonderful. The problem I have had is trying to adequately convey in words the myriad of thoughts and feelings that this particular story has provoked.
I’ve always liked the idea that places can retain echoes of past events. Call it whatever you want, a ghost, a presence, a shadow, it doesn’t matter. The suggestion that something gets left behind is an intriguing one. Couple this with the notion that certain individuals, particularly those who have survived a traumatic event/been close to death, are more in-tune with these places and you have the building blocks of an absorbing mystery.
The fantastical elements in this novel are actually quite subtle and are handled with a very delicate touch. Some of the characters are utterly dismissive of the weird things that are going on while others embrace them entirely. I rather like this approach, as I’m sure different readers will almost certainly take different interpretations from the events that unfold. It’s always interesting to read a novel that has that kind of ambiguous quality. This is the sort of fiction that when you finish you want to talk to other readers about.
Not unsurprisingly, the scenes set in the Saxon era are often violent and dark. The writing certainly doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to describing in visceral detail how warriors die in the heat of battle. Based on the evidence of these chapters alone, I’d love to read an entire historical novel written by Gudgion. I’d imagine it would be brutally evocative stuff.
Geoffrey Gudgion’s dark fantasy is a melting pot of many ideas. Elements from comparative theology, folklore, horror and historical fiction all blend together to form a compelling narrative. This novel pleasantly surprised me, it’s far more contemplative and thoughtful than I expected. This is an impressively solid debut from an author I’ll be looking out for again in the future.
For full review see http://www.theeloquentpage.co.uk/2013/09/20/saxons-bane-by-geoffrey-gudgion/
An unusual type of offering from Geoffrey Gudgion but one that really does have a bite of its own. The concept within was wonderfully brought together, the characters felt like they were a solid cast and when added to dialogue alongside emotional turmoil really made this a book that I had enjoyed spending time with.
The prose was solid, the characters felt like real people and when added to the overall arc really brought the whole concept to life. Definitely an author to watch and one that I’ll look forward to seeing what he hits back with as his next title.
For full review, see http://networkedblogs.com/OVSkY
Niall Alexander wrote on 13th September 2013:
The gathering narrative is greatly gripping and the overall atmosphere absolutely harrowing. These elements are both bolstered by a deftly developed sense of threat from the past and the present, which come together to excellent effect in a bona fide worlds-collide conclusion.
…[a] sure-footed debut. Certainly,Saxon’s Bane makes for a damn fine start down that fascinating track. It’s a terrific thriller made singular by its interaction with the past, and I’d recommend it to anyone with a hankering for solid historical horror.
Full review at http://www.tor.com/blogs/2013/09/book-review-saxons-bane-geoffrey-gudgion
4th September 2013
Geoffrey Gudgion’s debut novel proves Sherlock Holmes’ maxim that ‘the lowest and vilest alleys in London do not present a more dreadful record of sin than does the smiling and beautiful countryside’ although some of the crimes in this case are considerably older than Fergus Sheppard would have originally believed. The countryside itself becomes an important character in Gudgion’s tale, as Fergus starts to realise that what appear to be games are no such thing.
The central relationship in the book between Fergus and archaeologist Clare Harvey is well-drawn, which helps to pull the reader into the story more – Allingley is a community that doesn’t take easily to strangers who aren’t used to the old ways, and through Fergus and Clare, we learn about the web of relationships in the village, as it starts to increasingly impinge on their lives. Fergus’ rehabilitation after the accident and his reaction to his old life are also conveyed realistically, which makes a good counterpoint to the more fantastical elements.
Verdict: Evoking the spirit of Dennis Wheatley and those Hammer Horror films where strangers aren’t welcome in a tight-knit community – but with all of the characters and situations given a 21st century makeover – Saxon’s Bane is an effective creepy tale.