Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Evil Rises

Just as she did in book one, The Crowfield Curse, Pat Walsh uses her considerable abilities as a meticulous author and her work as an archaeologist to create a sense of place that immediately brings the reader into the world of the characters. 

William put the pail of water on the bench beside the workshop door and blew into his cupped hands to warm them.  The March morning was cold and a biting wind whipped the grey clouds across the sky.  Rain fell steadily, as it had done for weeks past, filling ditches and puddles, and dripping from the reed thatch of Brother Snail's hut.

It's done; I can feel the chill of that day not just because of the weather but because within the next several paragraphs shadows are seen leaving the forest, shadows only Old Magic can perceive.  The fay are frightened.  I am back with William, Brother Snail the healer monk, Brother Walter the hobgoblin and Shadlok, the warrior fay tied to William by a curse.  I am with them as they sense and then watch the awakened evil grow in power threatening not just Crowfield Abbey but the entire countryside.  When the white crow Fionn, spy and familiar of Dame Alys, soars into view or the Dark King materializes out of the mist I feel their fear but also their determination to do what is right. 

The Crowfield Demon, book two, beckons readers again into the medieval era of Britain rising from and still surrounded by the realm of magical forces.  Beginning just a season past from the end of the first title, The Crowfield Demon, speaks to the practice of blood sacrifices, demon worship of a fallen angel, a sacred grove and an ancient oak that is the focal point of this evil.

As the walls and tower of Crowfield Abbey are literally crumbling around the current residents, their worst fears are confirmed when one discovery after another tells the tale of the monks' original construction on this site.  A destructive force believed to have been bound and buried forever has discovered a weakness; a key to its release.  Even the Dark King seeks to distance himself from the woods around the abbey.

With a deftness worthy of the most skilled artisan Pat Walsh gives immediacy to this story through realistic dialogue and perceptive windows into the character's thoughts. The hierarchy of town and abbey life is draw with crystal clarity as could only be done through careful study and understanding of the times and people.  Just as she did in the first book she meshes the old pagan beliefs into the world of Christianity at that time; a time when superstition and faith overlapped.

William glanced around with a growing sense of unease.  The late afternoon shadows were creeping between the trees.  He could feel a change in the air, a strange stirring that tingled through his body.  The woods no longer seemed familiar.  The track ahead of him looked the same as ever but it felt very different.  He had the unsettling feeling that it no longer led to familiar places, to Crowfield and Yagleah, but to somewhere else entirely....William fought down the fear welling inside him. 

"The bowl is cursed, Prior!" Brother Snail protested.  Prior Ardo held up a hand.  "That's enough! I will decide what is best in this matter, Brother.  Just be grateful that I believe what you've told me about the boy's innocence and that I am allowing the fay creature to live within these walls with impunity.  Do not push me further!"
The prior turned to William.  "I accept that none of our misfortunes are of your making, but others may not believe it so readily. "...
The prior looked at Shadlok.  He seemed very wary of him.  "You must find a way to break the curse binding you to the boy and leave the abbey.  A house of God is no place for your kind."
Shadlok's eyes narrowed and he leant towards the prior. "If I knew the way to break it, I would have done so a long time ago, " he said softly.
The prior flinched and gazed at Shadlok as if he was a feral creature from the forest which might attack at any moment.
Which, William thought, wasn't so far from the truth.

The Crowfield Demon by Pat Walsh is a stellar follow-up to The Crowfield Curse intensifying the characters' connections, bringing enlightenment to this segment of history for readers willing to follow with courage though the darkness and unearthly power that threatens all. 

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