2004 AUREALIS AWARDS – Best Horror Novel Nominee

This tale incorporated mythological horrors and monsters in a complex story spanning different realms. One judge commented that the ‘book is like the Tardis; way bigger on the inside than it appears from without!’ The third part in a trilogy, Fire in the Shell was a solid book in its own right. It’s horror weaved with fantasy at a very high level and worthy of recognition.

– Judges’ Report, A Fire in the Shell (one of three books shortlisted for Best Horror Novel)


Modern myth-maker Josephine Pennicott has succeeded yet again in creating a compelling, hallucinatory example of dark fantasy writing. This is the final book in the Circle of Nine trilogy and is a combination of wonderfully descriptive depictions of character and landscape with extremely sinister stories.

A Fire in the Shell is more elaborate, macabre and menacing than the previous two instalments put together, which just want fans of this sort of writing love to devour! An enjoyable yet hell-raising romp through parallel realmsan ominous Australian bush, an elaborately researched Underworld, and the mythical land of Eronth. Pennicott skilfully conjures images from between the worlds into tangible, frightening reality with her magickal words of power. Highly recommended.

– Review by Caroline Tully, Witchcraft magazine, issue 41 (November/December 2004).


A Fire in the Shell is the culmination of the Circle of Nine trilogy and follows the lives of the coven on Earth and of Khartyn, Gwyndion and Maya in Faia. Once again we find characters convincing people of the evil of witchcraft when, in fact, they just wish to castrate the belief in magic, leaving the world open to victimisation by those who purport to be “good”.

For a fantasy novel to kill two man characters is not unusual but to have them burned at the stake is definitely a new take. In the majority of fantasy stories, if a character is killed in such a way then that character is assumed to be evil. Do not make such sweeping assumptions with Pennicott’s novels.

As I have said in earlier reviews, the Circle of Nine trilogy is not an easy cosy read. It is not the kind of story that you can dip into, reading an odd chapter here and there. This series deserves your full attention and anyone willing to be so attentive will be rewarded with a glorious technicolour story that challenges the norm and discovers new depths to the world of Faia and Eronth.

Prepare to have your preconceptions about magic and witchcraft challenged. Brightest Blessings!

– Review by Lesley Mazey, The Eternal Night Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Fiction Website (Eternal Night’s Circle of Nine review is here).