Book Review 2: A Dangerous Place – Robin Herne

26 07 2013

A Dangerous Place – Robin Herne

(Moon Books: 2013)

Robin Herne’s latest book is a collection of ten stories set in Ipswich, a town in the south-east of England. It is the dark side of his hometown that Herne explores in these tales. Tales set in the same place but not in the same time. The sequence of ten stories run from pre-history to now, each tale is complete in itself but each weaves with the others to give the sense of A Dangerous Place.

The book is structured with notes after each story, giving information on the socio-historical and fictional aspects of the tales. These notes were very useful in forming a context and sketching a light history of the town of Ipswich. Those who wish it can follow the references in the story notes to see what else can be learned. All will enjoy these stories.

Pagan themes and references run through the stories but they are not didactic. Several are, however, central to his characterisations and plots and Herne’s lightness of touch entices the reader to explore further. The final story has an amusing, mischievous take on some current Pagan debates as a sub-text in the tale. The entire collection of stories can be read merely for entertainment – but they could also be read as a starting point for moot discussions given some of  the themes and ideas they contain.

Herne’s characters are succinct and believable: several of them continued to parade on the mental stage long after the book was closed. Those who retain the echoes of a childhood fascination / fear of scarecrows will not be disappointed…

Thoroughly recommended.

Fiona Tinker

The Scottish Pagan Federation





Book Review 1: Diary of a Heretic! – Mark Townsend

26 07 2013

Diary of a Heretic! The Pagan Adventures of a Christian Priest – Mark Townsend

 (Moon Books: 2013)

Townsend documents a year in his life as he moves away from his role as a Church of England priest and begins a journey into a wider spirituality through an exploration of Paganism / Druidry. He may have become disillusioned by the institution that ordained him but he is never disillusioned by the figure of Jesus, who seems to give Townsend his centre as he explores his own spiritual path. His theological understanding of the differences in the ministry of Jesus and the ministry of the Church as an institution is subtly drawn and it is worth taking the time to pause and think about what he has written in this regard.

Many of the matters he wrestles with have echoes in earlier Scottish fiction: Hogg’s The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner (1824) and Robertson’s The Testament of Gideon Mack (2006) both of which explore the effects of institutional religion on their protagonists.  However, Diary of a Heretic! is not a reworking of themes from Scottish literature transposed to England, but the very real  – and very honest – experiences of a man as he undergoes a year of personal spiritual transition and growth.

Fiona Tinker,

The Scottish Pagan Federation