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The Oversight
Charlie Fletcher
Orbit, 576 pages

The Oversight
Charlie Fletcher
Charlie Fletcher began by studying an MA in English Literature at St Andrews, Scotland. From there he went on to work for the BBC before going to the University of Southern California School of Film and Television in Los Angeles to study screenwriting. He lived and worked in America for seven more years before returning to live in Scotland. Hee has written for TV, film and also done some journalism now and again, before turning his hand to write Stoneheart -- his first novel for children. Charlie Fletcher lives and writes in Edinburgh with his family.

Charlie Fletcher Website
ISFDB Bibliography

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Nathan Brazil

"What are you?" he asked, his voice hissing softly in a way that reminded Mr Sharp of the sound that winter waves made after they had broken and were draining back off a cold shingle beach."
The Oversight is the tale the last Hand; five people with supra-natural abilities, keeping the Law and Lore in an alternate Dickensian London. The Oversight was established to police and maintain the borders between the world of men and the darkly magical Sluagh. For many years an uneasy balance was achieved, mostly by mutual adherence to the rules that govern what is permitted from both sides. Then came the Disaster, which claimed the majority of the Oversight's Hands, leaving just one to hold back the dark. Thus far, it's a standard fantasy trope. But, as most readers will know, even the most basic of building blocks can be formed into stupendous structures. So, does The Oversight present us with a tray of diamonds, or just more rocks in the dirt?

Charlie Fletcher is a children's author, know primarily for his Stoneheart trilogy. The Oversight is his first work aimed at adults, and scores a near perfect bullseye. There are several reasons, the first and most important being memorable characters in a cracking, well-paced story. But what the author achieves goes beyond that. The Oversight comes with a credible and enticing back story, and an evolving mythology that twists just enough away from the standard to feel fresh. There are some delightfully imaginative touches; the bone pets employed by the Sluagh, a small telepathic dog that attacks at knee level, a creature that literally sucks the life breath from its victims, and a mute messenger who is anything but dumb. Some of the main characters are drawn from well established archetypes, such as Wayland Smith, but the author's take on them feels more personal, and because of that more substantial. The bridge from the page to reality is, therefore, made stronger. Another plus is The Oversight's depiction of an alternate Victorian age, which is done in an entirely convincing manner, and at times is almost olfactory. Mention must also be made of the subtle and well conceived magical elements. The author eschews the massive suspension of disbelief required by wand waving jiggery pokery, in favour of what seems as much a part of the characters lives as breathing. The end result is something that hammers most of his peer group into the ground.

Addictive as crack but far better for the brain, The Oversight encompasses magicians, witch-hunters, mirror-walkers, and supra-natural beings that are creepy as hell. Like a reverse Narnia with more meat and no gristle, it's one not to miss. Readers of fantasy who are on the look out for a fresh take on classic British folklore are therefore recommended to make room for three titles on their bookshelves, this one, and the next two books in the trilogy. It's going to be something special.

Copyright © 2015 Nathan Brazil

Nathan Brazil
If Nathan Brazil were dyslexic, he'd be the dog of the Well world. In reality, he's an English bloke who lives on an island, reading, writing and throwing chips to the seagulls. Drop by his web site at

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