Books of Magick
Life During Wartime
Book 1

Author: Si Spencer
Artist: Dean Ormston
Titan Books
RRP 8.99
ISBN 1 84576 005 0
Available 25 March 2005

The siege of the Faerie Queene has gone on for more than 15 months, and the last stronghold of humanity is near total collapse. Their one hope is that the Hunter - the very embodiment of magic itself - will come to save them. But hope is not enough for their battle-fatigued leader, John Constantine. Only reassembling the lost Books of Magick can guarantee the Hunter's return, and Constantine is prepared to sacrifice anything to make that happen - just as the Queene of Faerie will stop at nothing to prevent it. But Constantine has the edge: only he knows the Hunter's whereabouts and true nature - the blissfully unaware postgraduate Timothy Hunter, safe in another world where magic cannot reach... for now...

Book One of Life During Wartime is a queer beast. It's trippy and will go over the heads of anyone who isn't a Books of Magick follower. While the author attempts to set things up, so that the reader isn't left scratching their head, you'll probably need to read this twice to actually get it.

Dean Ormston's crude, almost childlike, illustrations do the job, for the most part. His renderings for the other realm are weird, twisted and generally look great. But, when given a more earthier subject his work comes up a little short. Without giving too much away... there is a torture scene which would have had much more impact if the illustrations had been a bit less crude (Okay I know these scenes were set in the other realm - but not the trippy aspect of that realm).

The heart of Si Spencer's script is not very original - it just feels that way because he cloaks it in so many watered down plot threads. Strip away the candy coating and underneath there is a story as old as time itself.

Oh, yeah. And I'm also right royally bored now of Constantine popping up everywhere (Hellblazer (obviously), Swamp Thing and now here). Sure he's a good character, but he's not that bleeding fantastic that you have to plaster him all over the place.

It's a shame, because this could have been so much more. As it stands, it's not quite average.

Nick Smithson

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