THE EYE COLLECTORS By Simon Kewin
Elsewhen Press, e/b, £2.99
Reviewed by Matthew Johns
The Eye Collectors is a story of Her Majesty’s Office of the Witchfinder General (protecting the public from the unnatural since 1645). It follows the relatively recent trend in fiction for magic and the mundane living alongside each other, with the mundane world mostly unaware of the existence of magic outside of books and films.
We’ve all heard of MI-6 and MI-5, but Her Majesty’s Office of the Witchfinder General has remained firmly hidden from public view. Protecting us from all things (in their terms) unnatural, it has a broad remit but essentially covers anything that’s too weird for the regular security services.
Acolyte Danesh Shahzan is relatively new to the Office. Based in Cardiff, he reports to the Lord High Witchfinder of All Wales. Sent out to investigate a murder where the victim has had their eyes removed and the body left within a pentagram, he soon finds himself sucked into a conspiracy that leaves him wondering just who he can trust. Finding links to his own family within the investigation, Acolyte Shahzan finds himself facing danger at every turn, tested to and beyond his limits.
Kewin has created a great set of characters and a good backstory for the Office of the Witchfinder General. Shahzan is a realistic hero – not particularly great at anything magical, scared of screwing things up, terrified of some of the things he comes up against, but determined to do the right thing. Flawed, decidedly human, and believable, he struggles with his family commitments, feeling attracted towards a colleague and a little lost in a conspiracy that he cannot see the end of; he is a good “everyman”. I really enjoyed the story and the fact that it’s not all black and white – it felt a bit more realistic than some stories that have very clearly defined good and bad characters.
I’ll be keeping an eye out for future books in the Office of the Witchfinder General series – if you enjoyed Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London series or the Dresden Files, then you’ll enjoy this one. Definitely one to look out for!