brought to you by OBS staffer Verushka
When a young woman is ritualistically murdered in her Saint Louis apartment with the primary clue being a pentacle scrawled in her own blood, police are quick to dismiss it as a cult killing. Not one for taking things at face value, city homicide detective Ben Storm calls on his long time friend, Rowan Gant–a practicing Witch–for help. In helping his friend, Rowan discovers that the victim is one of his former pupils. Even worse, the clues that he helps to uncover show that this murder is only a prelude to even more ritualistic bloodletting for dark purposes. As the body count starts to rise, Rowan is suddenly thrust into an investigation where not only must he help stop a sadistic serial killer, but also must fight the prejudices and suspicions of those his is working with– including his best friend.
“Harm None” is the first Rowan Gant novel by MR Sellars, a self-confessed “long-haired hippie activist tree hugger”. He has had a lifelong interest in religious diversity, instilled in him in at a young age by his parents. As a result, the book reads like an introduction to Wicca, with Rowan and his wife, Felicity as guides. Through his faith and his belief system it seems Rowan has developed many abilities that help through the course of the book. There are no magic amulets, swords or amazing fighting skills here, which is a welcome change from many books of this genre.
This first novel revolves around a ritualistic murder which is investigated by Rowan’s friend, Ben Storm. Ben comes to Rowan for help in deciphering some of the elements of a murder and draws Rowan further into the case when they discover that the first victim is a friend and student of Rowan’s. As the number of dead bodies increase, Rowan is drawn deeper into the case as he recognizes the Wiccan elements of the murders and realizes the police are going to need his help to catch this killer.
The book is an engaging introduction to Wicca and draws the reader in well as soon as it begins. Through the investigation, Rowan and Felicity face common prejudices and misconceptions, most of which I think readers unfamiliar with Wicca would have thought at some point. Through a normal couple, armed with their faith in their religion, Sellars uses Rowan and Felicity to explain these away. They are believable guides, with a deep sense of their faith that never wavers when facing such prejudices. The case is enjoyable and provides an interesting mix of Rowan’s Wiccan abilities and police work. Rowan’s desires and abilities to help never takes away from the reality of the crime which makes the book a riveting read.
Rowan Gant is just a guy; someone you would not hesitate to share a beer with, or wave at over the fence. He is unassuming and deeply committed to his faith and that is a continuing thread through the book. There are no prophecies or anything magical here (not in this book anyway) as one would usually find in books like these, simply Rowan and Felicity’s faith in their religion and what abilities it has helped them develop. Rowan is deeply in love with his wife, Felicity and that provides a firm grounding for the book and both characters. Neither is distracted by the usual thread of romance running through books in this genre, but instead have to deal with a more personal tragedy through the course of the book. I had hoped for more in regards to that and the effect on their relationship in this one, but perhaps there is more to come in the next novels in this series.
Felicity is a fiery character, fiercely protective of Rowan and a wonderful counterpoint to his character. Their back and forth is wonderfully informative in the book as she and he together reveal what Wicca is to the reader. I enjoyed too that Felicity played an important part in solving and case and helping Rowan as he used his abilities to unmask the killer instead of being relegated to the background.
Ben Storm and his wife are their best friends, and a couple that play an important part in who Rowan and Felicity are. Ben begins the book sceptical of Rowan’s gifts, but his desire to capture the killer trumps his own personal doubts. Ben too is learning about Wicca and Rowan in fact, and he becomes the reader’s voice in the book.
“Harm None” proved to be an intriguing introduction to Rowan Gant and Wicca and I look forward to picking up the other books in this series.
Talk about the book here