My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The bad news, this is one of those books that you really must read the first book (The Crowfield Curse) first otherwise this will be a bewildering read. The good news? That’s the only bad news (and book one was really enjoyable, too). William, a young boy left at Crowfield Abbey after his family died in a fire, has some new things to get used to. For one, Shadlock, the fay warrior, is now bound to him for life and the sour fay is slow to settle into monastic life. He is teaching William how to play a flute, the one activity Will actually likes.
However, things aren’t going well, even though William, Shadlock and the hob Will calls Brother Walter, saved an angel shot down in the abbey woods a century or more ago. Something is happening to the church. It is beginning to fall in. The first third of the book is them dealing with the possibility that this could happen and what it might mean, as it doesn’t look like a natural event.
As stone masons try to save the church, it becomes clear that the cause of the damage is the titular character, a demon imprisoned within the church and there is nothing that is going to stop it from getting free. Worse, it wants William as does Dame Alys, a practioner of the old ways of blood sacrifice. Sir Robert, the local lord, wants something of both William and Shadlock as well. Once the demon is free, what can William, Shadlock, Hob, and Brother Snail (a monk with a severe back deformity and friend to William and the fay) do to stop it before it takes William’s soul?
At it’s heart, this is a very simple story in setting and plot. There aren’t a half dozen subplots running around. That doesn’t mean it’s uninteresting in the least. I loved this every much as I did the first book. William, Shadlock, Brother Snail and even Hob are sympathetic and interesting characters. I was very excited at the end to see there will surely be another book. I’m not ready to say goodbye to them. Ms Walsh is an archeologist and her love of history is evident in this. About the only thing this is missing, for those who demand it, is a strong female character. However, given the setting of a medieval monastery, one would be both out of place and not very believable. I’m looking forward to the next one.
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