I only remember a few bits and pieces, such as:

  • Magic returned years ago, and destroyed technological society. But now it's going away again.
  • There's a death-figure known as john walker (maybe walker john?)
  • One of the main characters, a woman, is an artist (painter)
  • Another main character, a man, is some kind of local politico
  • There's a bridge between magic and mundane realms
  • Something about owls, winter, and the sacrifice of children (I think?)

Vague enough for y'all?

  • "Magic going away" is a pretty common theme; tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TheMagicGoesAway
    – Valorum
    May 17, 2014 at 13:01
  • As is, of course, the flipside trope where The Magic Comes Back as it apparently did at the beginning of this story. Did you read this in the 90s or are you fairly certain it was published then?
    – FuzzyBoots
    May 17, 2014 at 15:14

1 Answer 1


That would be "The Night Watch" by Sean Stewart.

It is now 2074. Magic has been in the world for as long as anyone can remember -- and has taken over. Children are sacrificed to gods and ghosts. Man-made machines have conquered the inner cities. And people who enter the forests are never seen again...

"Magic had started falling at the end of World War II, invisible at first, then gradually more obvious. By the time Emily's grandfather was a child, in the 1970's, little drifts of it were building into monsters or miracles often enough to make it clear that a great change was coming. The climate of the world was shifting away from the light of reason into a dusk where dreams put on flesh and the hungers of flesh. Finally, late in the winter of 2004, the rational, scientific world was entirely covered, as lost to memory as summer is in the cold grey days of December. That year, many things that had slept through the age of reason finally woke up. Forests woke up. Buildings woke up. Gods and ghosts and demons woke up everywhere."

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  • That's it - I remember the cover. Thank you!
    – Joe L.
    May 17, 2014 at 23:58
  • And thank you, Richard, for the expansion work. May 18, 2014 at 1:06

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