The Dance of the Serpents (Frey & McGray #6), by Oscar de Muriel

The Dance of the Serpents by Oscar de Muriel

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

The Dance of the Serpents” is book six of Oscar de Muriel’sFrey & McGray” series. The series started out interesting enough with Frey being the rational investigator during superstitious times. McGray on the other hand always was basically seeing the “supernatural” all around him and in everything in their cases.

There used to be kind of an equilibrium between both of them: It used to be unclear if there truly was a supernatural force involved or if everything was actually due to “natural causes”. We, the readers, could be the judge of that. This worked well enough for the first four books. Along came “The Darker Arts” in which Frey’s no nonsense attitude became overwhelmingly dominant and McGray was pretty much demoted to an unhinged clown. cf. my review.

This book reverses these roles to some extent: McGray’s superstition – bordering on obsession – gets to dominate everything else. Probably because “The Dance of the Serpents” continues (and completely derails) the story told in the second book in which Frey and McGray unmasked a coven of witches… I for one only have some dim, fleeting memories of that book which I read more than five years ago but de Muriel doesn’t care and simply assumes we’re going to remember.

Whereas in earlier instalments we had some subtlety and nuances, there’s nothing of that left here. The action – while almost completely bland and uninspired – is fast-paced, almost non-stop. None of the former ambivalence between “magic”/superstition and the real world remains – possibly because there’s no time to breathe and think. Even Frey falls prey to paranoia, e. g. thinking every single raven must be an agent of the witches…

Even worse, for about 70% of the book, we have hardly any clue what this is about because until then it’s kind of a vicious circle: Something bad happens, our heroes travel somewhere only half-knowing why at best. At or after their arrival something bad happens – again. And, again, they travel onwards, hardly knowing where and why.

Once we finally get to know what this is all truly about, it turns out to be an uninspired convoluted mess of a story that hardly makes any sense at all, turns history into travesty and unnecessarily tries to turn Queen Victoria into some kind of deranged monster.

I only finished this because I will read the final book in this series which was recently published and in which “All will be revealed…” according to the blurb and there are a few loose threads I want to see picked up. Afterwards, I’m most likely going to avoid Oscar de Muriel like the bubonic plague.

I’m already worried how de Muriel will bring this formerly great series to the worst possible conclusion…

Till then: One out of five stars for this botched effort.

Ceterum censeo Putin esse delendam

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