Title: Preacher, Prophet, Beast
Series: The Tyack & Frayne Mysteries: Book Seven
Author: Harper Fox
Length: 200 Pages
Category: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense
At a Glance: Preacher, Prophet, Beast reads like a fever dream at times, often making me question what was real and what wasn’t—maybe it was both, and that unknowing is the sum of its best parts.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: Lee would gladly trade all his psychic gifts for a chance at ordinary life with his husband and his little girl. Three years into their marriage, they’re settled in their new home – but the House of Joy can’t shield them from an oncoming threat with the power to uproot their whole world.
Lee can’t define it further, and even his beloved Gideon can’t unmask a monster with no face at all. Gideon is mired in problems and secrets of his own as he struggles to adjust to his new rank and the complexities of plainclothes police work with CID, and for once the devoted Tyack-Frayne partnership is failing to communicate.
Turbulent times in the world at large reach deep into the Bodmin heartland, and the village of Dark is without its guardian constable. More than Lee and Gideon can possibly know has been depending upon their rapport, and as the summer rises towards the longest day, a new and unfathomable kind of Beast is afoot on the moors…
Review: God, this series. I’m running out of words to express my love for these characters and my appreciation of author Harper Fox’s gift of them to her readers. Beginning with book one, she’s crafted a homey feeling of family, friends, and townspeople who have faults and strengths, as we all do—some are just downright awful, as some humans are—but then she’s created this gorgeous romance between Lee Tyack and Gideon Frayne amongst it all, and then imbued the scenery with Cornish folklore, druidic ritual and a touch of the supernatural. Preacher, Prophet, Beast reads like a fever dream at times, often making me question what was real and what wasn’t—maybe it was both, and that unknowing is the sum of its best parts. The winds of change have blown over the Cornwall landscape, and there is a bit of prophesying at play now. What it means remains to be seen.
There is a holiday novella, Third Solstice, that precedes this installment in the series, and while it’s not imperative, in the strictest sense of the word, to read it before digging into this full-length novel, it will prepare you for what Lee and Gideon’s baby girl, Tamsyn, is fated for. Granny Ragwen, the Dark witch, also plays a part in what’s evolving, and the story is fantastic, too, so there’s that. Read it if for nothing more than it’s more time spent with this fascinating cast of characters.
Lee and Gid went through hell and back in Guardians of the Haunted Moor over their daughter, whose mother happens to be Lee’s sister, Elowen, and while their relationship with her isn’t yet repaired, Elowen plays a small but significant part in the story, too, as does Gid’s preacher brother, Zeke, who is slowly but surely proving he’s human—in the person sense, not the paranormal—which is a welcome evolution. In my review of the second novella in the series, Tinsel Fish, I said that I had high hopes for Zeke, and those hopes have come to fruition. I love him and all his stilted love and conflicted acceptance of his family: Lee and Gid in particular. I think he’s finally learning the difference between religion and faith, and I couldn’t be happier for this growing, albeit grudging, awareness. There’s not a single character in this series, in fact, who reads as mere set decoration or as a clunky and convenient device to further the story. Everyone contributes, and that’s entirely owed to Fox’s ability to layer Lee and Gid’s story and then enfold these people into it and make them important.
Plotty romance is the hallmark of the Tyack & Frayne series. We talk a lot about the happily-ever-after when we speak of books in the genre, without much tangible evidence that the HEA is solid, only what we wish for. That’s not to say I’ve never been convinced of any other couples’ growing old together, loving each other for as long as they both shall live, but perhaps not in the same way I believe in Lee and Gid’s come hell or high water, forever brand of love. Theirs is easily one of the truest and purest love stories I’ve ever read, and despite external conflict causing some internal friction in the storyline, there was never a question they wouldn’t come out stronger on the other side.
One of the undercurrents that took shape in this story, and the author capitalized on to good effect, is the current socio-political climate that is the breeding ground of hatred and chaos in the story. The pervading sense of evil is steeped in legend and is also human-borne. There is a sense of monstrous people behaving monstrously, and the realism of it lent a sad sort of helplessness to the storyline which is then offset by the hopefulness that love will always overcome hate.
There’s no way to synopsize this book and not give up spoilers. Not to mention that, at this point, there are far too many threads finessed into the whole of what it is on its surface: a gorgeous romance. And Gideon’s becoming… There is a richness to the depth of development of this series, and while it may seem intimidating to think about starting a series that has to be read in order and is already this many books into it, I can’t recommend this one highly enough.
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