I don't read a lot of Fantasy - Dark or not, but luckily I've been steered in the right direction when I have picked up one of these books - and MADIGAN MINE is no exception. What was even more startling is that this is a first book, yet it's very assured, cleverly paced and quite engaging.
This book is the story of Alex Bishop who meets up with his childhood friend Madigan Sargood after many years apart. A very intense love affair follows, with tensions over friendships, time spent together and time spent apart. Their affair eventually ends, but the attraction continues. Forever.
There's something very believable about the attraction that Alex has for Madigan. Despite the warnings of friends, despite the way that she takes over his life, but seems oddly to hold back a little from him, Alex cannot and does not want to let go. He is bewitched, besotted and utterly in love. On the one hand Madigan, in some ways as committed to their relationship, is also somewhat absent, often more interested in her increasing band of odd friends and her desire for control of everything and everybody.
All of the characters in this book are extremely engaging. Alex is definitely a victim, but he's not pathetic, or a figure of contempt. His love and support of Madigan is beautifully written. Madigan quickly reveals some complicated sides to her own personality - a victim in her own right, a catalyst, a threat, a lover and an object of worship, a controller who is controlled by events in her own life. It's actually quite a juxtaposition of typical gender expectations that works really well. And there's a good supporting cast from the discomforted flatmate to the acolytes that surround Madison, all of whom lead or spotlight the main characters and their actions.
I came away from MADIGAN MINE really pleased I'd taken the time to pick it up. Whilst Dark Fantasy at it's core, there is enough in this book to engage fans of thrillers as well. Whilst the action and outcomes rely heavily on paranormal aspects - there is also a wonderful sense of foreboding and threat, combined with excellent pace and an overall thriller styling that really really works well. Combine all of those elements with a rather touching, and somewhat sinister love story, and this was definitely a one-sitting book.