The Oversight, by Charlie Fletcher

Publisher: Orbit
First publication date: May 6th 2014
Pages: 464
ISBN: 9780356502892


Only five still guard the borders between the worlds.
Only five hold back what waits on the other side. 

Once the Oversight, the secret society that policed the lines between the mundane and the magic, counted hundreds of brave souls among its members. Now their numbers can be counted on a single hand. 

When a vagabond brings a screaming girl to the Oversight's London headquarters, it seems their hopes for a new recruit will be fulfilled - but the girl is a trap. 

As the borders between this world and the next begin to break down, murders erupt across the city, the Oversight are torn viciously apart, and their enemies close in for the final blow. 

This gothic fantasy from Charlie Fletcher (the Stoneheart trilogy) spins a tale of witch-hunters, supra-naturalists, mirror-walkers and magicians. Meet the Oversight, and remember: when they fall, so do we all.


I received a copy of this book through NetGalley for an honest review.

In the dark hours of night in London, a girl is propped inside a bag and taken to the Jew. He, the man has been told, will pay handsomely for a screaming girl, and Lucy does little more than scream. But the Jew is not a man. He, or rather she, is a woman called Sara Falk, and she does not look pleased to strike the deal. When she does, it is not money he is given in the end. 

But it is not of the man we need to worry about - not for now. This story is not about him. It is about Lucy, about Sara, about people with supranatural and human blood, about the Oversight, and the creatures in the dark that want to destroy them. And destroy them they might, for the Oversight has been reduced to a single Hand of Five after the Disaster, and as machinery changes the world, their enemies grow increasingly desperate. Nobody is safe.

The Oversight is the first book in a series and it is one hell of a start. Haunting from page one, it takes hold of the creatures of nightmares, those who fiddle with your mind, who feed from your breath as leeches do from blood, and sneaks them into old but familiar settings.

The prose is deliciously ominous and darkly amusing, the sort that reminds one of gritty nails, blackened teeth, and feats of magic only heard of in folk stories. Just like character and plot, it is nuanced and enfolding, always leaving you wondering if there is more to what you read than you think. Most times than not, the answer will be a very firm "yes". Even when Fletcher hints that that's the case, there will be more going on than what he makes you at first believe. And it works. By keeping the morbid flame of curiosity alight, Fletcher ensures that the reader will turn the next page without a second thought.

A cast of characters from the various sides of the fight (for who ever said there was only "good" versus "evil" going on here?) and a number of plot twists feed the need to read on. For all sides seem to be winning, and all sides losing. From start to finish. Even at the end of the book, when various sub-plots are wrapped up and a winner seems to be chosen, the other sides are still lurking on the sideways.

The Oversight is an atmospheric book, crawling with magical creatures and objects in Victorian England. I cannot wait to see where the next books will lead - surely to somewhere grimly scrumptious.

The book in a quote

"It was not that kind of magic, which only exists in fairy-tales: it was the other real kind, the sort of workaday sleight which just makes coincidences happen at the right time."