Merrily Watkins Books In Order

Publication Order of Merrily Watkins Books

The Wine of Angels (1998) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Midwinter of the Spirit (1999) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
A Crown of Lights (2001) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Cure of Souls (2001) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Lamp of the Wicked (2003) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Prayer of the Night Shepherd (2004) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Smile of a Ghost (2005) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Remains of an Altar (2006) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Fabric of Sin (2007) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
To Dream of the Dead (2008) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Secrets of Pain (2011) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Magus of Hay (2013) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

Merrily's Border: The Marches Share Their Secrets (2009) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Phil Rickman is a British author who focuses his writing on the supernatural and mystery genres, with a touch of horror and crime/detective elements. He was born in Lancashire, Northern England, and worked as a journalist for BBC World Service TV and BBC Radio 4 before publishing his first novel in 1991. Rickman began working on the Merrily Watkins series in 1998, when he also published the first book of the series.

He is a very involved writer, and he does a lot of research before working on any of his projects
Rickman also dabbles in music, and has worked on a couple of albums that are based on his books, having written a number of songs featured in them.

About The SeriesThe Merrily Watkins series is centered around the life of the main protagonist. Merrily is a 36 year old single mother whose husband was killed in a car crash, leaving her with a teenage daughter, Jane.

Having enrolled at a theology college, she started working as a curate in Liverpool, and then moved to Herefordshire, where she becomes the priest-in-charge in a country parish known as Ledwardine. She eventually becomes a Deliverance Consultant/exorcist.

This small town looks very peaceful and almost boring at first, but Merrily soon discovers that it has a history of horrific unsolved murders, pagan rituals and superstitions. With the help of psychologists, new found friends and the town’s police department, Merrily is able to solve some of the problems that plague this little Gothic town.

The Characters

Although Merrily is in a position that requires a strong foundation of Christian faith, she is often easily shaken and scared of all the things that her occupation requires her to deal with- from the supernatural elements to the resistance she receives from the old patriarchal families, who are not too happy about having a female clerical member.

She also has problems at home, where her teenage daughter is fond of experimenting with pagan rituals and does everything she can to undermine her mother’s authority and religion. Merrily is also addicted to smoking cigarettes, a bad habit that Jane doesn’t fail to call her out on whenever she gets the chance.
Her love interest, Lol, is a broken and quiet man, whom she tries to help with his self confidence as she struggles to get him to open up to the possibility of having a romantic relationship with her.

Merrily’s friendship with the 70 year old Gomer Perry is also very important as he is the one who always gets her out of impossible situations.

The Wine of Angels

This book begins with the suicide of one of the oldest residents in town, which was very unexpected. The story then goes on to explain part of Ledwardine’s history, where Wil Williams, a 17th century priest was murdered and hanged for witchcraft. Stephen Adler- a homosexual actor obsessed with this event- then decides to produce a play about Wil William’s death with his partner. This doesn’t bode well with some of the old families, who are fearful about the secrets that will be unveiled with the staging of the play.

We then get to see more about Jane when her friend Colette mysteriously disappears after claiming to see visions in an ancient apple orchid.
This novel mostly builds on the characters and the history of Ledwardine, while telling the story of Colette’s disappearance which is thought to be linked to the underlying supernatural entities in town.

Midwinter Of The Spirit

In this novel, Merrily is an official exorcist of the diocese, and she has to deal with even more resistance as she is the only woman chosen to study at a Christian deliverance group in the English Midlands.

This book is much more eventful than the first- with Merrily being nearly raped by a young handsome bishop who lacks faith, and her possession by a spiritual entity. Supernatural events also take place during the Boy Bishop ceremony in Hereford Cathedral. We get to see more ghosts, demonic possessions and satanism, and how human greed and ambition can be as evil as the supernatural forces that are more commonly feared.

Jane’s character has also been developed, and she is swept up in a wave of New Age mystical ideas that cause more conflict between her and her mother. She gets a new friend, a wicked girl called Rowenna, who has been known to seduce members of the clergy. We also get to see that Jane is spiritual, but doesn’t really believe that the English Church is, and we finally understand why she constantly mocks her mother. However, she and Merrily eventually reconcile, giving the reader a taste of a real human moment in the series.


This series blends religious and supernatural elements and humanity’s flaws with a mastery that Rickman has trademarked in his works. The stories are thrilling and almost unsettling, and some readers have advised others that the books are not to be read at night.

The characters have been well developed and keep showing signs of more development as the series goes on. Rickman also manages to tell the stories in every character’s perspective, which manages to keep you reading the books to the very end.

The books don’t have to be read in order as every novel has it’s own plot. However, if you want to properly follow the characters featured in the series, you may want to start with the first book, as it explains the history of the town and why some characters are the way they are.

You can also tell that the author has done extensive research on the procedure of Deliverance (exorcism), as we see that every single possibility, including psychiatric, is eliminated, before exorcism is pursued as an option to solve the problem. He states that most of the elements in his book are based on facts and studies rather than fiction.


The Merrily Watkins series has been commissioned by ITV and is going to be made into a TV series, beginning with a three-episode pilot named after the second book.

Book Series In Order » Characters » Merrily Watkins