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A story too secret, too terrifying—and too shockingly intimate—for Victorian eyes.
A note to the Editor
I have been Simon Feximal’s companion, assistant and chronicler for twenty years now, and during that time my Casebooks of Feximal the Ghost-Hunter have spread the reputation of this most accomplished of ghost-hunters far and wide.
You have asked me often for the tale of our first meeting, and how my association with Feximal came about. I have always declined, because it is a story too private to be truthfully recounted, and a memory too precious to be falsified. But none knows better than I that stories must be told.
So here is it, Henry, a full and accurate account of how I met Simon Feximal, which I shall leave with my solicitor to pass to you after my death.
I dare say it may not be quite what you expect.
No joke—this book was my most eagerly awaited read for this year. (Just in front of Josh Lanyon’s Winter Kill, Charlie Cochet’s Against the Grain and whatever goodness Tamara Allen is cooking up.) Ever since The Magpie Lord, I’ve been an excited passenger on the KJ Charles train, and with Think of England, I bought a ticket for the “hyper fan sleeper car,” which involves a lot of boozing, chortling, and avoidance of sleeping, because there is READING to do!
Along with those books, I also gobbled up the short stories “The Caldwell Ghost” and “Butterflies,” along with the novella Remnant, all of which star the occultist Simon Feximal, a brickhouse boxer of a man with runes carved on his body that speak for the dead, and Robert Caldwell, a nosy and intrepid journalist that invites Feximal over to get rid of the pesky (horny) ghost haunting his house, and after that, can’t seem to get too far from him. (Thankfully for us readers. Their sometimes restrained, other times so-not-restrained chemistry is SMOKING.)
I loved the earlier stories, so having a whole “casebook” that explores the further adventures of Simon and Robert was a true treat. Here, oh-happy-reader, you will find the original two stories of “The Caldwell Ghost” and “Butterflies,” as well as a bunch more that develop Simon and Robert’s relationship further, from one-night-stand-in-the-haunted-house, to battling evils and submitting to villains, all in the name of…well, you should read for yourself. Each page is a macabre and twisty delight, and for those who dislike horror, it wasn’t too-too scary. (I find the villains in the third Magpie book the most twisted, but maybe that’s just me.) There’s definitely page-turning tension galore though, so maybe don’t read this on your commute to work. (cough cough) Because it sucks when you have to get off at your stop right when things get very nail-bitey.
One note to say that the free novella Remnant is not included in this book, and I very much recommend that. (Feel free to read it after if this is your first time reading Feximal.) It’s a fun read and provides more adventures as well as some development. Highly recommended.
Overall, I really enjoyed this, and if you either enjoy Charles’ work or paranormal romance stories, this may be a good read for you.
My only off-point is that I wish there was more. Not just because I am a greedy reader (I AM!), but some major things happen in one of the later stories, and for me, it didn’t feel like enough of the “after” was explored. (And you’ll definitely need to read Remnant to get more.) It would have been great to get 1-2 more stories that were post-event to feel more of their life after. But otherwise, it’s a fantastic ride, well worth the wait.
Will there be more Feximal in the future? This reader isn’t sure. It ends very well, for ye nervous readers, but I wouldn’t kick a few more stories out of the bed for eating crackers, if you know what I mean.