Cover Image: The Auguries

The Auguries

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Member Reviews

I enjoyed this more than I expected to. There was some parts of this book that meant I couldn’t put it down. Unfortunately I was very disappointed with the ending. In my opinion it sort of faded to nothing. Such a shame for an excellent book most of the way through
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My thanks to Severn House for an eARC via NetGalley of F.G. Cottam’s ‘The Auguries’ in exchange for an honest review.

Professor Juliet Harrington is an expert on 16th Century occultism and mysticism. She believes in the existence of a fabled book: the Almanac of Forbidden Wisdom. It is said that when the spells contained within it are used there are serious consequences known as the Auguries.

Juliet’s intellectual quest becomes actual when a series of unexplained catastrophes occur in London. She is approached by a delegation including the Home Secretary and the Archbishop of Canterbury who task her with locating the Almanac. She is granted access to secret archives and assigned a dishy translator, Paul Beck. The narrative interweaves material from the 16th Century about the creation of the Almanac. 

However, unknown to Juliet and Co the Almanac has been found by the fourteen-year old Jackson twins: Peter and Dawn. This forms another main thread of the plot as after the death of their grandfather they had discovered a number of items in his attic, including a strange book bound in vellum. 

While Peter has faith, serving as an altar boy, his sister is another matter. While intelligent she is capricious and decides to experiment with the Almanac. She seems unconcerned about the consequences and swiftly becomes a dangerous and frankly terrifying character.

This was a well constructed work of supernatural horror with a strong historical component. 

It’s notable that even in such a dark and disturbing tale there are moments of humour such as Paul’s film references and Dawn’s recurring insistence that she’s “definitely not on the spectrum” and her various examples of her connection with the world despite her indifference to the havoc caused by her actions. 

While I have been aware of Cottam’s work for some years this was the first book of his that I have read. Having enjoyed (if that’s the right word for a genuinely chilling experience) then I will certainly look for other of his works.
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This is my first book by this author and, on the back of what I read, definitely won't be my last. It gripped me from the very first page, held me captive throughout, and left me satisfied at its conclusion.
We start with some strange goings on at a funeral. Then cut to history prof Juliet Harrington talking about a book. The Almanac of Forbidden Wisdom which is a powerful spell book compiled by some big names in the occult. But this book is only legend, a legend that also states that using the magic contained within comes at a cost, that cost being the Auguries. More strange things occur and Juliet starts to believe that not only does the book actually exist, but someone is using it. As the disasters escalate further, it becomes a race against time to track down the book and its current guardian and put a stop to things before they go too far.
I really wasn't sure what I was getting myself into when I started reading this book but I had one heck of a ride reading it. I was fascinated by the history surrounding the book and how it came to be. The real reason behind the book's existence, the people who collaborated on it and what happened to them thereafter. How the author weaved fact into his fiction seamlessly. And how the book fell into the hands of a 14 year old girl who was a bit strange even before she found what she had. How she was swiftly drawn into the book's thrall and how she played with what she had, inadvertently triggering the End Times. Gripping stuff indeed!
Juliet is ably assisted in her endeavours by translator (and so much more as we eventually find out) Paul Beck. These two characters complemented each other very well and add an extra dimension to the book. The rest of the characters were equally well drawn and played their parts very well. Yes, some of the things that happened were a bit bonkers but, as anyone who knows me, know that I do love a bit of bonkers and some of the things that happened along the way were definitely of that ilk - and also contained some quite funny moments to boot!
All in all, a cracking read that I thoroughly enjoyed. Another author to add to my watch list and another back catalogue to add to my every growing tbr. My thanks go to the Publisher and Netgalley for the chance to read this book.
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I have been enjoying F.G. Cottam’s various supernatural/paranormal books for some time now and was happy to have the opportunity to read his latest as an ARC. Here he has done something a little different, moving beyond the dread of evil and its limited occurrence to whole scale evil of apocalyptic dimensions. And it all begins with a book, not an ordinary book, but a book created some 500 years ago by the most powerful occult practitioners of Europe. And now it has fallen into the hands of a 14 year old English girl, very bright, socially inept, identified by others as on the spectrum. All in all, not someone you want controlling your, and humanity’s, future.

The story introduces us to Juliet Harrington, an academic who has been investigating the possible existence of this book as part of her work. Her skeptical boss changes face once government representatives seek her out for assistance. Even those in power realize that the odd events happening are not natural, are more magical and require a different approach if they are to survive.

Rather than give you lots of details on the flurry of horrors that afflict London, I will just say that they combine natural and unnatural disasters, scourges, and that they reflect a teenage mind scheming as a teen would but with so much more power. Probably the only fault I found with the book was the stress on her being “on the spectrum.” I don’t think that would account for Dawn’s behavior. I think there must have been a touch of sociopath in her makeup as well. Being on the spectrum, to me, means lack of social skills or ability to relate to others normally, not a propensity toward apocalyptic behavior. As one of the characters in The Auguries speculated early on, a worst case scenario might be an ornery teenager coming into possession of the book. Well sometimes a simple fear may be the truth.

This is a fast paced read, that moves across Europe, and through diaries into the past, answering some questions before raising more. In its own matter of fact way, the story is almost light at times because of Dawn’s character, or lack of same.

Recommended for those who enjoy paranormal books with a touch of horror. Cottam is someone you should be reading.

A copy of this book was provided by Severn House publishers through NetGalley in return for an honest review.
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An exciting, engaging and entertaining mix of different genres.
It's a book that keeps you hooked till the last, never bores and will make you read as fast as you can.
I liked the plot, the atmosphere and the well written cast of characters.
I look forward to reading other books by this author.
Recommended!
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine.
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I am fast becoming a fan of FG Cottam's intensely compulsively blend of horror and the supernatural in his riveting storytelling. Here, he gives us a rollicking, entertaining and fast paced read that has London facing apocalyptic events set to decimate its population, and its historic buildings. A super bright 14 year old young girl, Dawn Jackson, has a twin brother, altar boy, Peter, and a grandfather who has recently died. Dawn is on the autism spectrum, although she is in constant denial of this fact, arguing that she cannot be because she has a strong interest in current affairs. Given that she is a capricious, arrogant, vindictive and autistic child, she lacks empathy and unable to comprehend the consequences of her actions. Dawn has discovered a dangerous purloined book, hidden by her late grandfather. 

Compiled by a 16th century German alchemist, Gunter Keller, it is a compendium of the demonic dark arts, the Almanac of Forbidden Wisdom, of whose existence rumours have abounded through history. It has within it spells from the leading European practitioners of the darkest magic of the time, Keller's aim was to bring about the end times on earth. This is a powerful book, affecting all those within its proximity, and making the dead restless. Anyone using the spells trigger the Auguries, a series of impossible catastrophic events, which is exactly what occurs when Dawn begins to cast the evil spells. There are poisonous fogs, inexplicable lunar eclipses, the sinking of the Esmeralda, a plane crashing into the Thames barrier, statues weeping tears of real blood and other horrors. Professor Juliet Harrington is a leading authority of 16th century mysticism, convinced that someone, most probably an adolescent child, is indeed precipitating the deadly auguries, the devastating price of deploying the spells. 

Tasked by the home secretary to locate the book, Juliet, with the help of Paul Beck and Father Gould, races against time to locate the spell book and identify who has it whilst the world as she knows it disintegrates all round her. Cottam does some wonderful characterisation, none more compelling than the disturbed and unsettling Dawn, the child from hell. The narrative, with its 16th century historical thread with Henry VIII and Keller's life, with the present day nightmares, make for an action packed and engaging read. You are going to have suspend your disbelief on occasions, but for me that did not detract in the slightest from the joys of reading this fun and fabulous novel of horror. Many thanks to Severn House for an ARC.
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3.5 stars.

  The Auguries by F.G. Cottam is an intriguing blend of occult and horror elements.

  Fourteen year old altar boy  Andrew Baxter is disturbed enough about troubling occurrences during a recent funeral to talk to his parish priest Father Gould. During the course of their discussion, the term “the unrestful dead” immediately comes to the priest’s mind. In an effort to learn more information, Gould reads a monograph by Professor Juliet Harrington in which a rumored book, Almanac of Forbidden Wisdom, might be responsible for recent tragic events.

  It turns out Britain’s Home Secretary also believes this book containing numerous spells is at the heart of their country’s latest catastrophes. He convinces Juliet to travel to Germany in hopes of learning where German alchemist Gunter Keller (who was burned at the stake centuries earlier) hid the Almanac.  As these cataclysmic events continue at an alarming rate in Britain, the fate of the world rests on Juliet locating and neutralizing the book.  Will she accomplish this near herculean task?

  Unbeknownst to Gould or Juliet,  the Almanac of Forbidden Wisdom has fallen into the hands of young local girl in his parish. She does not comprehend the correlation between her experiments and the tragic events occurring in Britain.  And even if she does eventually figure out the connection, will she stop performing the spells in the book?

  Juliet is aided by translator Paul Beck as they scour Keller’s long ago writings that begin in 1528. They uncover alarming information that in turn leads to their frenetic attempts to track down the writings of other people involved with the spells in the Almanac of Forbidden Wisdom.  Juliet also knows how to stop the current catastrophes from continuing, but she must locate the book.   She is edging ever closer to uncovering the Almanac’s whereabouts but will Juliet get there before it is too late?

  The Auguries features an interesting premise but the pacing is slow and some passages are a bit repetitious.  The translations of the centuries old works are quite fascinating. However, the story arc in the present hinges on unrealistic circumstances surrounding the novel’s antagonist. The horror and occult aspects of the storyline are extremely well written and very interesting. F.G. Cottam brings the novel to an ambiguous conclusion that is rather frustrating. A bit of a mixed bag, but an overall entertaining read.
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Another end of times thriller that I found interesting though a bit boring at times. I did find the story a bit similar to many others though I would recommend to fans of this genre
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I received and advance copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Auguries reminded me a bit of another Cottam book, The Lazarus Prophecy.  The same interesting mixture of church/world history and modern horror.  In fact, I have read several of Cottam’s other works and they all have a strong element of history and folklore that is really a plus for me.  His novels provide quite a bit of suspense and strong historical elements as well as thriller style pacing which is a compelling mix.  I find the horror elements not to be of the “in your face” variety but more along the lines of images and concepts that disturbing on a deeper level than something nasty trying to break into your house.

The Auguries is about witches and dark magic and a spell book finding its way into the wrong hands.  Rather than some unrealistic wizard/super villain, the evil in The Auguries is very familiar, which grounds the story in a believable element.  The Almanac of Forbidden Wisdom was written with the hope that it would fall into the hands of an amateur who would be unable to forsee the damage that these spells would do.  The magic is harsh and simple yet the repercussions drastic and escalating to the apocalyptic.  

As a writer, Cottam’s skills are well developed.  The characters representing the church and state are presented in a sympathetic light as heroes, which isn’t often the case.  It was a relief for me to read a book that wasn’t full of typical clichés where the government characters are power mad and the clergy are evil.  Here they felt like real people.  Even the villain had sympathetic elements and was completely believable.  

Apart from all of that, it is a damn good story.  Like Lazarus, Auguries is horrific historical “what if” that injects legends, actual characters and events into a supernatural story.  It is quite compelling.  Several times I felt the desire to research whether The Almanac of Forbidden Wisdom actually exists.  I decided not to.  I would rather not know.

4 solid stars.
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The Auguries by F. G. Cottom – 3-Stars
Publisher: Severn House Publishers LTD
ISBN: 9780727888693
 
Dawn was the highlight of this book. She is a very evil, mischievous, little girl who finds the Almanac of Forbidden Wisdom and begins her quest to learn all the spells no matter the cost. She’ll stop at nothing to perfect a spell, even by using her brother as a guinea pig. The “Auguries” are side effects, chaotic to claustrophobic in nature, of using a spell, or in some cases just caused by a person near the book. Had this novel continued to build on Dawn and her demonic acts, I would have loved it.

Unfortunately, Dawn and her activities became less and less in terms of text. Meanwhile the history of the Almanac of Forbidden Wisdom and the search for the book and the person utilizing it became the focus monopolizing the novel. It was like Dr. Jekyll (the book hunt) and Mr. Hyde (Dawn and activities), where I wanted the excitement and interest of the unpredictable Mr. Hyde with the imaginative Auguries; not an increasingly boring Dr. Jekyll or a over done Sherlock Holmes. 

The history of the book and the individuals leading the hunt were very nicely introduced and developed as necessary. However, once that was done, it was not pleasant to drag on with it. I stopped reading this at about 80% and asked my wife to fill in the ending. She’s always committed to finish a book no matter how its interest it fades. 

So, I rated this a 5 to begin and 2 by the end, making it a 3 overall. I suppose how you will enjoy it depends on whether your pulse rises from Mr. Hyde actions or Dr. Jekyll and Sherlock Holmes discoveries.

Reviewer: Rich
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Very entertaining apocalyptic horror novel. A few missteps with the characters and the ending is rather abrupt, but on the whole I found this both fun and frightening, which I'm sure was the point!
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I received an ARC courtesy of netgalley and the publishers Severn House. I have read all of F.G. Cottam's book- so I am I suppose a fan of his dark horror with its accompanying chills and creepy settings from a haunted house to a haunted boat. His trilogy, The Colony, is in my opinion a peak for Cottam and when I read the first Colony novel I could almost believe it was a true story with a bit of faction thrown in- it was grippingly realistic and set on an isolated island. I think claustrophobic settings might be part of the Cottam charm; when the walls close in you know there's nowhere to go. This latest novel from him is, I felt, rather different in scope, tone and even style. In The Auguries the whole of London is showing signs of entering the End Times :- statues weep blood, a poisonous fog descends, a plane falls from the sky, the city floods and the infrastructure breaks down with bloated bodies floating in the streets - all of this is somewhat skimmed over, but then the entire novel is a compact 208 pages, and Cottam has a lot to fit in and he does set a terrific pace. So on the plus side this story is fast paced, fun, action packed and cracks along. However the choice of a teenager as the main antagonist who holds the 'Almanac of Forbidden Wisdom' (inherited from her looter great grandfather) doesn't work for me. She may/may not be autistic (a comment which is repeated to lesser effect each time) throughout the book - but as she ignites the spells to gain her own desires- she seems more of a psychopath than anything else and not very believable. The creepy scenes in her basement where she imprisons what was her brother though work very well- a miniature gem of Cottam writing there and the weird reanimated grandfather sent chills through me; but the good guy adults - a rather 2d female Professor and her academic colleague (with military training which comes in handy) chase around Europe rather in a caper movie fashion, following the clues to the C16th Almanac and its origins- so there is much jumping back in time and change of pov as well to follow. This is somewhat disjointing and there is a lot of that for a 200 page book; so not much chance to settle into one pov or time period. I would say if this is your first Cottam start with an earlier one.
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Thank you NetGalley and Severn House for the eARC.
Whew, that was some read!  I just finished it and I'm still breathing hard...
This story is about The End of Times, the Auguries that precede it and the Almanac of Forbidden Wisdom in the hands of a 14-year old precocious girl, Dawn.  Supremely intelligent, without a moral compass, she manages to wreak havoc on her family, the City of London and later the rest of the world.  Professor Juliet Harrington, Father Gould and Paul Beck are in a race to find the Almanac, but not before passenger boats sink, planes fall out of the air; floods, hurricanes and fires decimate the citizens and London is left ruined and empty.
There were times I couldn't help but smile, then times where I felt uneasy...somehow it felt a little like turning on the morning news and sighing as the news is yet again of mass shootings, deadly severe weather and world politics.
It's a terrific read, with chapters set in the present as well as the 1500's.  I enjoyed the chapters mentioning King Henry the 8th, he really came to life for me.  F.G. Cottam is fast becoming one of my favorite authors and I highly recommend this book.
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"Thrilling" and "fast-paced" are adjectives that get bandied about often in book reviews, but this book is a master class in both of those features.  Cottam tackles subjects of enormous scope (apocalypse, ancient occult) and two separate timelines and weaves a fascinating novel from both.  I can't imagine the restraint it took to keep this book as lean and economical as it is.  The result is an incredibly engrossing stay-up-late-to-finish tale of human sickness with my favorite sort of ending.  

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2735203971
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Rollicking along with a huge sense of scope and boundless imagination, I had an awful lot of grisly fun with this.
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London seems to be falling. As planes fall from the sky and a fog brings the plague while the city of London is underwater from flooding brought about by the dam destroyed by the plane that fell from the sky during the fog. Bodies are piling up and people are properly horrified and terrified.

As one country blames the other and events unfold that appear to be signs of the end times. But outside of London, a local priest has heard an unsettling confession from one of his altar boys. It would seem that at the last funeral not only did the incense smell off, but he knows he heard a thump coming from inside the coffin. 

Julia has given an interview about the Almanac of Forbidden Wisdom. A supposed book of magic and power that was produced in the sixteenth century by the leading occultists. It has the ability to bring about the end of the world. It also has all the spells of these experts inside. But magic isn't free. There is always a cost. And for 14-year-old Dawn, who has found the book in her great-grandfather's attic it may be the last thing she reads. She is one scary teenager!

In a race against time Julia, Paul and the priest will risk everything to find the book and put it back where it belongs. 

All of the horror and apocalyptic events were wickedly good! Dawn has absolutely no sense of right and wrong and while I may have thought once or twice about shoving my brother in the closet, I did not choose to kill him and then reanimate him.

Things were brought to a fast conclusion in this one and the ending left me hopeful there will be another!

Netgalley/Severn House June 01,2019
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I had so much fun with The Auguries, a novel of apocalyptic horror set against the backdrop of a recognisable England. (I always pause over using the word 'fun' about the sort of stories that entail gruesome deaths and the presence of ancient evil, but what can I say? The disasters might have genuinely stressed me out, but the brisk pace and intriguing characters made the book enjoyable nevertheless.)

The first chapter introduces Andrew Baxter, an altar boy who has a hunch something isn't quite right at the funeral he's attending. The suspicion is only compounded when he hears an ominous rattling from the direction of the coffin. Through Andrew, we also meet Peter Jackson and his precocious (and rather terrifying) twin sister Dawn. Meanwhile, professor Juliet Harrington is giving an interview about her monograph on the Almanac of Forbidden Wisdom, a book of black magic purportedly compiled by the German alchemist Gunter Keller in the 16th century. Any use of the book's magic is supposedly heralded by signals known as the Auguries – one of which is the phenomenon of 'the unrestful dead'. Juliet is scolded by her boss for speaking publicly about the Almanac, but when a series of bizarre events throws London into turmoil, her knowledge becomes invaluable.

In terms of Cottam's other work, I would say this skews closest to The Lazarus Prophecy: the ominous, hectic atmosphere; catastrophic events in London; historical and religious elements. It has a much stronger apocalyptic flavour than many of his books. There are some excellent narrative diversions, notably the journal of Keller himself, as well as some wartime letters and the papers of the 'mastermind' behind the Almanac. It's an engrossing journey, and at the end, everything is tied up swiftly, leaving the path clear for a sequel. (I couldn't help wondering whether the threat had really been neutralised...)
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The previous Severn released Cottam’s book was actually really good. So much so that this one I downloaded just going by that and a brief and admittedly interesting description. In fact, it had all the sorts of things I like…mainly a mysterious book that can bring on the end of the world. But then…the execution, that left a lot to be desired, especially knowing the author can easily rise above this mediocre quality. For cheap thrills, this was perfectly suitable, but now adays I look for more substance in my scary tales and, franly, more scares would be nice too, and this one just didn’t really deliver on either account. The idea was grand, but the main antagonist is a 14 year girl, which is a dubious choice at best. There is much debate to whether she is or isn’t autistic, she herself is convinced she isn’t because she follows the current events and this fact (kid you not) is repeated no less than four time almost verbatim, which for a relatively short book is indeed a lot. The good guys are mainly all adults and the have to, quite rapidly, conduct an abbreviated Europewide choice to locate this arcane compendium of occult knowledge. Meanwhile, London is going properly apocalyptic with all the backfire from the spells the autistic/not autistic girl performs. And the thing is (sorry to go on about it, but it was so annoying), what she’s written as is a proper sociopath, possibly a psychopath…all brains, no emotions, no consideration for or valuing life of others, etc. Anyway, on and on the story goes, reading surprisingly slowly for the page count and also quite disjointedly as it jumps from past to present. The historical backstory was quite nice, outside of disjointedness. The ending had that ambiguous sort of twist that scary stories sometimes have. Generally, it was entertaining, but not great, far from great, reminded me of lesser Graham Masterton works if that helps. It passed the time, but nothing special here. Check out Cottam’s Lucifer Chord instead. Thanks Netgalley.
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I'd anticipated this novel for quite some time, as I've been following the author's discussions on Twitter. I'd also long been a fan of his work, and now I can state that THE AUGURIES, his newest novel  is the best yet. (Though I shall continue to rave over his THE WAITING ROOM.) THE AUGURIES is a champion combination of contemporary London with  the sixteenth-century England ruled by a capricious and willful monarch, Henry the Eighth. Mr. Cottam brilliantly showcases both today's culture and the suspicious, gullible, but highly religious society of the 1500's, in England and also in Spain, the Alps, Germany, and the Netherlands. He renders both cultures extremely comprehensible as he utilizes strongly-delineated characters to elicit truths about each era. Then he turns the contemporary portrait upside down and effectively destroys it in an incredibly Apocalyptic, totally implacable, inexplicable and impossible, series of events which defy the laws of physics and Nature, but which nonetheless continue to occur.

If you like your Apocalypse served hot and your historical revenge served cold; if you glory in feats of magic and science and historical research; if you love your characters drawn right down to the bone, with an author's X-ray vision of their truths; then you need to read THE AUGURIES. F. G. Cottam demonstrates mastery indeed.
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The Almanac of Forbidden Wisdom is a spell book constructed in the 16th century, and it would appear its dark magic has been released into the modern world. Professor Juliet Harrington is one of a few academics who know of and believe of the Almanac and she’s desperately trying to find out who is using the spell book. Beginning with a ferry disaster that leaves hundreds dead and the Bubonic plague, things really start to go downhill fast, because the book is in the hands of a teenage girl, and she’s pissed at the world. This was an incredibly fast paced book that has some really scary moments, my only problem was the conclusion, which wrapped things up way too fast
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