Last of the Albatwitches by Brian Keene

Last of the Albatwitches - Brian Keene
As a long-time Brian Keene fan, there was probably no way I was not going to enjoy his long awaited return to his much-beloved character, Levi Stolzfus. And so it was that I got quite a kick out of reading about the ex-Amish powwow practitioner and spiritual aider being back in action.

In both THE WITCHING TREE and LAST OF THE ALBATWITCHES, Levi is coaxed away from his home to investigate strange and mysterious deaths. The details differ, but the set-up is almost exactly the same, with THE WITCHING TREE offering perhaps the less interesting of the threats, but revealing the first signs of a fairly significant development that stands to effect both Levi and the greater mythos prevailing through all of Keene's works for many books to come. That development (he said, remaining deliberately vague) echoes through the following ALBATWITCHES novella and is further expanded upon by the time that read comes to an end. Along the way, the reader is treated to what becomes a spiritual sequel to one of Keene's popular novels, Castaways. There are also references to his short story Scratch, and the reappearance of a character from Levi's first on-page appearance in Ghost Walk. In other words, this one is fairly essential reading for any fan of the Keenedom.

Technically, Keene writes with a fluidity and economy of expression that should be the envy of many of his contemporaries. I like the fact he kept these stories to short novella length, rather than padding them out to a full novel page count, as many others would have been tempted to do. They both read quickly and effortlessly - aside from the rehash of information in LAST OF THE ALBATWITCHES which was completely unnecessary when both novellas are presented together (as they are here). And on that note, one other minor complaint is why continue to call this book Last of the Albatwitches instead of giving it a different name, since it's comprised of a novella of the same name plus one other. It really does feel like THE WITCHING TREE got the short end of the stick on this one ...

Yeah, yeah. I can hear some of you know. Bitch bitch bitch, why don't you, Soze? As I said, it's a minor complaint, but one which I found myself wondering about each time I picked it up - which wasn't often as I polished this off in three work-interrupted sittings.

Anyway, this was the first of a large number of planned new releases for Keene over the coming year or two. And I have only one thing to say about that: bring them all on!

4 Tests of Faith for Last of the Albatwitches.