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Galen Beckett – The Master of Heathcrest Hall

April 27, 2012

43. The Master of Heathcrest Hall by Galen Beckett (2012)
Ivy Lockwell, Book 3

Read my review of book:
1. The Magicians and Mrs. Quent
2. The House on Durrow Street

Length: 718 pages
Genre: Historical Fantasy

Started: 31 March 2012
Finished: 15 April 2012

Where did it come from? Pre-ordered from Amazon.
Why do I have it? I really liked the first two books in the series, and I was anxious to see how it was all going to end.
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 27 March 2012.

The end of the world
is coming, and it’s up to
Ivy to stop it.

Summary: On the surface, everything seems to be going well for Ivy Quent: she and her family are comfortably situated, and her husband is on the brink of being promoted to a position of even greater influence. But all is not well in Altania: the duration of the days and nights is growing ever more variable and unpredictable, rebels are rumored to be on the point of landing on Altania’s shores, the government is in a state of disarray, and the time of the Great Conjunction is drawing nearer, a time when a great devouring evil will be able to pour into Altania through the magical gateways. Ivy knows of this through the riddles left behind by her magician father, but she alone cannot stop it, despite her powers as a witch. But Ivy, the debonair Lord Rafferdy, and the illusionist Eldyn Garritt will all have their parts to play if they hope to save Altania from terrible destruction and endless night.

Review: I enjoyed this book, as I’ve enjoyed the two books in the series prior to this one, but there were some pacing issues, both within this book and in the series as a whole, that kept me from really loving it. On the good side of things, this series is a wonderful fantasy of manners, but set in a fascinating universe, and with a more serious underpinning to the plot than inheritance issues and whether the protagonist will marry well. The story in the third book pretty neatly wraps up and explains all of the various plots and subplots that have come before, and in a way that made sense yet wasn’t predictable.

My problem with this book is the same problem that I’ve had since The Magicians and Mrs. Quent; namely, that there are a lot of subplots, and while they’re all interesting on their own, they don’t always interconnect and intersect as much as I would have liked, leaving the story feeling somewhat bloated. Some of my favorite scenes in this book were scenes in which two of the three POV characters (Ivy, Eldyn, and Rafferdy) were in the same room at the same time (and even once, all three together!), but such scenes were few and far between. In the meantime, each protagonist is moving about in their own world, and while all parts of it did eventually contribute to the end, it felt like there were a number of things that could have been condensed or trimmed to keep things moving along a little quicker.

That lack of story speed meant that in the beginning of the book, it took a long time for me to get sucked into the story. I understand the drawn-out worldbuilding in the first book in the series, but at this point, readers are already familiar with the characters and their world, so the slow build-up of the first few hundred pages felt a little like dawdling. Similarly, I thought the ending was strangely paced, with the event with the biggest “punch” happening a full 250 pages from the end, and the actual climax not really being shown, so much as told about after the fact. I guess it’s believably Austen-esque in that way, but after the more action-heavy endings of the previous books, it felt like somewhat of a let-down.

Overall, though, don’t let my griping dissuade you from the series. Even though it’s slow at times, the good writing and the fascinatingly original world and story make it well worth it. 4 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: Beckett does provide some summary of previous books (useful for those of us who read them over a year ago), but it’s not enough to start this series anywhere but at the beginning. Recommended for those interested in Regency-esque fantasy that’s got a seriously meaty and potentially world-ending conflict.

This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon

Other Reviews: Couldn’t find any (yet). Have you reviewed this book? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.

First Line: The people huddled in the cave as the wind shook the branches of the trees outside.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. April 29, 2012 3:56 pm

    I enjoyed the first two books in the series but I haven’t picked this one up yet. I had problems with the pacing and all the story lines happening at once. I liked all the characters but at times I felt like I was reading a few different books just crammed into one. I may still buy it though because I really liked the world.

    • May 2, 2012 10:18 am

      Amy – Sounds like we have similar reactions to this series. The third book is more of the same, but it’s worth it to see how everything comes together.

  2. May 2, 2012 11:54 am

    I’m really looking forward to this, but I’ve decided to wait and read it when I’m through my current slow-as-molasses phase. Your review has pretty well cinched that. If I start it right now, I know I’ll take forever to finish it, and I figure it’s best that I bust on through that slow beginning as quickly as possible.

    • May 3, 2012 7:40 pm

      Memory – Yes, I chose to start it during the two weeks of the year that are habitually my busiest and most stressful time other than the holidays. Not one of my better decisions. But hopefully you’ll pick a better time, and enjoy it!


  1. The Magicians and Mrs. Quent – Galen Beckett « Stewartry
  2. The Master of Heathcrest Hall by Galen Beckett | Tales of the Marvelous

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