Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Arthurian Omen by G.G Vandagriff

First Sentence: Brother Gruffyd’s old heart trembled with excitement.

The Arthurian Omen by G.G. Vandagriff
Shadow Mountain, 2008
Crime Fiction (S/T); 322 pgs

When I first entered my name for a chance to read and review The Arthurian Omen through LibraryThing’s Early Reviewer program, I had certain expectations for this book. As the reviews began to trickle in, I did my best not to pay too close attention, but at the same time it was hard not to pick up on some of the criticism. I then took a closer look at the back of the book. “In the tradition of Mary Higgins Clark . . .” the back cover reads. Ah ha! I suddenly understood. It isn’t recommended that a reader believe author and book comparisons that may be mentioned in blurbs or elsewhere on the back of or inside a book. I learned my lesson in that regard awhile ago. It has been a long time since I picked up a novel by Mrs. Clark, but I do think of her books fondly. She was one of my favorite “comfort” authors for many years and while maybe not the best written, they certainly were quick and entertaining. Taking all that in when I finally settled in to read G.G. Vandagriff’s novel, I had a better grasp of what I was getting myself into, and I truly think I was better for it.

Maren and her sister Rachael have been estranged for a number of years, and so it came as quite a surprise when Rachael, a Celtic scholar, telephones Maren to ask Maren's assistance in locating a sacred fifth century manuscript relating to the history and legend of King Arthur. Maren is looking forward to reconnecting with her sister and desperately wants to get away from her failing marriage. The man she married on the rebound after the suspicious death of her first husband is not the man she thought he was.

Upon her arrival in Oxford, Maren learns that her sister, Rachael, has been murdered, and Maren is sure it must be over the Arthurian manuscript. What follows is a fast paced adventure from Oxford, England to Northern Wales as Maren, accompanied by Chief Inspector Llewellyn and Sergeant Cole of Scotland Yard, begins the search for the manuscript and a killer. She is not alone in wanting to get her hands on the manuscript, and those on the same trail prove to be much more unscrupulous and deadly.

Maren comes across as reckless at times, jumping into situations feet first. She seems to be a woman who attracts trouble while the men around her cannot help but adore her. G.G. Vandagriff does a good job of keeping the characters a little off center so as to keep the mystery at bay from her main character, even if not this reader. There are plenty of twists and turns as the many plot threads begin to come together.

If you are expecting a novel that is rich in Arthurian or Celtic history and of a more scholarly nature, The Arthurian Omen is probably not what you are looking for. The writing is simple, at times repetitious and stating the obvious, but it does make for a quick read. This really isn’t the type of book that can be taken too seriously. It’s purely for fun and entertainment. I had a good time racing through the pages alongside Maren and her traveling companions.

Rating: * (Good)

Be sure and stop by G.G Vandagriff's website for more information.

Read what others had to say about this book:

Back to Books (Nicola)
Tip of the Iceberg (Terri B.)


  1. Yes, very good review! I had the same opinion as you. I think the majority of the LT reviews were overly harsh, but then I also think that the original blurb had people expecting something different than it was.

  2. Wonderful review! I tried not to be too harsh in my criticism since I did enjoy the book. It was definitely not what I expected. I think you did a great job here giving some perspective to the book and the readers expectations.

  3. Thanks for a great review - I definitely would have expected something different from that title. It sounds somewhat similar in premise to Interred With Their Bones by Jennifer Lee Carrell - literary history mixed with murder mystery. I might enjoy it.

  4. Thanks for the review. I love anything about King Arthur and even though you said this doesn't have too much of that, it sounds like it'd be a good, light read. I will check it out.

  5. I adore light mysteries that fall into the "comfort read category". The kind you can read on a rainy evening with a cup of tea and no worries. I'll look for this one.

  6. Like the other said, great review, Wendy. You always express your thoughts and impressions so well. This doesn't sound like something I'd rush to get, but it does sound like a very entertaining read, which is something we all need sometimes.

  7. Great review, Wendy!
    I was expecting something "heavier" just by looking at its title, and since I'm not really into that, I think I might look out for this as it seems like a good, light & entertaining read.

  8. Sounds like it would be an excellent beach book.


  9. Nikki - Thank you!

    Nicola - Thanks! I agree. I think they were definitely expecting something different than what they ended up getting.

    Terri B - Thank you! I didn't think you were too harsh at all. You made some good points in your review of the book. Sometimes our expectations can make or break our opinion of a book.

    Florinda - I know I was expecting something different at first from the title and from the book description offered by LT. I am glad though that I figured out my expectations off before I started reading it. This was a fun book, and I might have enjoyed it less had I expected more from it.

    Jennyellen - The book did offer a perspective of King Arthur I was unfamiliar with and so I don't think you will be disappointed if you are looking for something light and entertaining at the same time.

    Jenclair - Comfort reads can be very rewarding--and very welcoming. I'm wishing for a rainy day right now!

    Nymeth - Thank you! I admit I struggled a bit with how to put my thoughts into words, but I'm glad it came out okay.

    Melody - At first I was expecting something heavier too. I think you might enjoy this one.

    CJ - Exactly!

  10. Beach book sounds about right for something like this. I don't like author comparisons either.

  11. Hi, found your blog on LT. I'm only just making my way around to everyone's blogs. I really wanted to get this through ER, but after seeung these reviews... not so much. I look forward to more of your reviews :)

  12. Hi - I also found your blog at LT and wanted to say hello. =)

  13. Excellent review, Wendy! The book sounds pretty interesting and I have not heard of this author before.

  14. Jaimie - The author comparisons can be very misleading, I've found. Although I think the Mary Higgins Clark reference gave me a clue as to the general feel of this novel, it's still very different from the kind of story that Mrs. Clark writes.

    Kathleen - Thank you so much for stopping by! This is the type of book when its best to know exactly what you're in for or you might end up being disappointed, especially if you go by the book description alone.

    Elizabeth - Thanks for stopping by and commenting! I haven't had a chance to sit down and peruse very many of the LTer's blogs yet, but I plan to do that this weekend.

    April - Thank you! I hadn't been familiar with the author before either, but it looks like the author has written a few.

  15. Sounds interesting but not life changing. I am glad you enjoyed it, it's always good to enjoy free books and not guilty about slating them!

  16. Rhinoa - It was a fun book, and I'm glad I got the chance to read it.


Thank you for taking the time to visit Musings of a Bookish Kitty. Don't be shy! I would love to hear from you. Due to a recent increase in spam, I will be moderating all comments for the foreseeable future. Please be patient with me as it may take a few hours before I am able to approve your comment.