Spiderweb Alley by Verlyn Flieger

See the Mystery Review Crew’s review of Spiderweb Alley by Verlyn Flieger

Spiderweb Alley (Book 1 of The Elverie Road Series)

Author: Verlyn Flieger
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Mythology/Folklore

In this psychological thriller that touches upon the dark, fantastic realm of Celtic myth, two young lovers find their lives, and their love, torn apart by the power of fairy tales. Mick, a young professor with expertise in folklore, wants to make a name for himself in the academic world, so when he learns of a remote seacoast community in the British Isles which maintains an ancient tradition of storytelling, he brings his new girlfriend, Kath, on a working vacation to visit the isolated village. While listening to Lame Elly, the matriarchal storyteller in the community,

Kath is gripped by visions that she and Mick are participants in the story, and later these visions grow in intensity, become nightmarish, and affect Kath so much that she collapses and needs to be hospitalized. When Mick, for whom stories are just stories, starts to question Kath’s sanity, he precipitates a crisis in their relationship, which deepens when Kath insists that her experiences are real and not just hallucinations. Also, the more Kath and Mick are drawn into the community, the more the reader realizes that some of the local people may be more than just the country villagers that they appear: some characters may in fact be visitors from “Elverie,” a local term for Fairyland or Elfland, or the Land of the Dead.

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Review of Spiderweb Alley

I love an author who can set the hook early and keep me rapidly “flipping pages”, but Spiderweb Ally by Verlyn Flieger was a slow start for me. It was hard to get involved, yet I was still curious. It’s rare when I don’t finish a book. I like to give it a chance. Sometimes it takes a while for a book to get going and the ending can save it.

Mick is a professor with a passion for folklore. He learns of an isolated village with an ancient tradition of storytelling and he and his girlfriend, Kath, set off on an adventure neither one could envision.

About halfway through I became more interested and was curious about what they wanted from her. Are they good or evil? I’m not sure how I feel about Mick. Sure, it would be hard to take in what she’s saying. After all, who believes portals to other worlds really exist?

The most gripping moment was on the cliff, and I did have my heart in my mouth over that. I’m not going to tell you what’s going on. You will have to find out for yourself.

Even though Spiderweb Alley by Verlyn Flieger didn’t blow my mind, I did enjoy my visit with Mick and Kath. Would I walk further down Elverie Road? Yes.

About Verlyn Flieger

Verlyn Flieger is Professor Emerita in the Department of English at the University of Maryland, where for 36 years she taught courses in J. R. R. Tolkien, medieval literature, and comparative mythology. She is the author of five critical books on the works of J. R. R. Tolkien– Splintered Light: Logos and Language in Tolkien’s WorldA Question of Time: J. R. R. Tolkien’s Road to Faërie (winner of the 1998 Mythopoeic Scholarship Award in Inklings Studies); Interrupted Music: the Making of Tolkien’s MythologyGreen Suns and Faerie: Essays on J. R. R. Tolkien; and There Would Always Be a Fairy Tale: More Essays on Tolkien (winner of the 2019 Mythopoeic Scholarship Award in Inklings Studies). Her fiction includes A Waiter Made of Glass: Poems and Stories, and a modern reimagining of the King Arthur legend in Arthurian Voices. Her most recent book, Spiderweb Alley, is the first volume in a series of connected novels called The Elverie Road.

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