A Long Day in Lychford

      Publisher: Tor 

      RRP: £10.99

      Author: Paul Cornell 

      Published:  2017-11-01




It's a period of turmoil in Britain, with the country's politicians electing to remove the UK from the European Union, despite ever-increasing evidence that the public no longer supports it. And the small town of Lychford is suffering. But what can three rural witches do to guard against the unknown? And why are unwary hikers being led over the magical borders by their smartphones' mapping software? And is the European question really important enough to kill for?


A story which provokes divisive opinions - much like the EU referendum did.


The third title in Paul Cornell’s Witches of Lychford series, A Long Day in Lychford returns the reader to the titular village post-Brexit. Previously (relatively) harmonious, the rural settlement is once again divided, with ill will and suspicion on all sides. Autumn, one of our three main protagnosts and one of Lychford’s few residents of colour, finds herself bearing the brunt of the anti-immigrant sentiment spreading throughout the UK. Feeling increasingly isolated, othered and alien, her patience wears thin and she finds herself in conflict with her two counterparts; a microcosm of British society circa 2017.

In a neat allegory of society’s concern with maintaining borders and defending against outside influences, A Long Day in Lychford sees the boundaries between the village and the land of Faerie in flux and under threat. In a further further reflection of some peoples’ desires to keep society from changing, readers find Lychford stuck in time due to the disruption of the village’s borders. A night that won’t end nicely encapsulates the horror that would unfold, should society really be able to stop the clock. The three witches have an unenviable task ahead of them; not only to unite the village and heal the hurt and rifts between residents, but to repair the barriers to Faerie in a just and fair manner.

With a modern fantasy setting, it is interesting to see Cornell reference and address the current issues in society at large in this tale. The reflection of the difficulties of protecting our borders and the animosity, fear and suspicion the European Referendum provoked are well illustrated. While some readers may enjoy the encroachment of current political machinations and their effects into the fantasy world of Lychford, in a world where one consumes media, especially genre fiction, to escape reality, some may find this instalment in the Witches of Lychford series a little lacking in fantasy and with an overabundance of reality. This may be a story provokes divisive opinions. Much like the referendum itself did.

Reading A Long Day in Lychford in 2017, the story feels incredibly relevant to today’s world; it remains to be seen, however, how this tale will withstand the tests of time and whether, once Brexit has happened, or indeed, been cancelled, the tale will retain its relevance, or whether this inclusion of such current affairs will leave the story feeling dated. Ultimately, Cornell’s narrative rattles along at a fast pace; events unfold quickly over the titular day, and the story may be over too soon for some readers - luckily, it is unlikely to be too long before we can look forward to another adventure with Lychford’s coven.





Full disclosure: GeekPlanetOnline is the publisher and host of Paul Cornell's now-finished podcast, The Cornell Collective. Former GeekPlanetOnline Site Editor Dave Probert acted as that podcast's producer. The author of this review has no personal connection to Mr. Cornell.