The World Below by Susan Bartholomew (book review)

November 18, 2015 | By | Reply More

There is no copyright on titles. This can make it very confusing for a reader who may only have that to go on. For older readers in the Science Fiction/fantasy field, ‘The World Below’ will evoke memories of the S. Fowler Wright novel from 1929. This book is a far more recent tale with the same name.


There are many authors who have ventured into either a world under the Earth, such as Jules Verne in ‘Journey To The Centre Of The Earth’ or taken the main characters into a world of demons as Justina Robson did in ‘Selling Out’, the second of her ‘Quantum Gravity’ quintet. Each one has a different take on it but, although underground doesn’t necessarily mean demons, in most cultures demons are to be found beneath the surface. Getting there can mean passing through gates or crossing dimensions, especially when the demon world has a geography roughly coinciding with ours.

In Susan Bartholomew’s first novel, ‘The Lake Of Destiny’, we were introduced to Laura, a young woman with a taste for adventure but who had been raised by nuns, and Ciaran, a youthful sorcerer. This is a world with many of the trappings of Medieval England but with a fantasy glamour. ‘The World Below’ is set at least six years after the first novel. Laura and Ciaran are married and have a five year-old daughter, Hilda. They live in a cottage which cannot be too far from Oxford as Ciaran teaches there. The king is Henry (which one isn’t stated) and Laura is his agent. She is suddenly ordered to go to Kernow because an army has crossed the border from the Kingdom of Lyonesse and it is led by a demon called Sardok. Laura is to go ahead of the King’s army and dispose of the demon with her magical sword. Ciaran decides to go with her leaving their daughter with their friend, Aidan.

They manage to dispose of Sardok relatively quickly but, when they return, they find that Aidan and Hilda have been abducted and carried off to the demon world. To go after them, Laura and Ciaran have to go through Lyonesse but the King’s mage, Oswald, seems intent on stopping them and the demons aren’t too happy with humans invading their territory.

This novel suffers from all the same problems as ‘The Lake Of Destiny’. There are issues with the production itself, it being effectively a bound manuscript rather than a properly typeset book. The style of the writing in ‘The World Below’ is also consistent with that of the first book. Anyone who did enjoy the first novel will find more of the same here.

Pauline Morgan

November 2015

(pub: Algana Publishing, London, 2014. 402 page enlarged paperback. Price: £ 7.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-907934-04-9)

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Category: Books, Fantasy, MEDIA

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