Thirteen years after the Great Pestilence of 1348, plague returns to England’s shores. A dark haired stranger rescued from the sea warns the residents of Porlock Weir of it’s approach and promises she can charm it away for the price of a single human life.
For Will, dwarfed in childhood and recently exiled from his job as jester life could hardly get worse anyway so he cares little about the plague, but Sara, now a wife and mother, remembers the horror of losing her own parents and fears for safety of her family. Still, any human life is too high a price when plague is still a rumour.
But when the sickness comes and people begin to die, the cost no longer seems so unthinkable...
It seems strange to think that I only discovered Karen Maitland’s work a year ago when I reviewed The Raven’s Head, in that time I’ve completely fallen for her gothic tales and impeccably flawed characters. I’ve delved into her back catalogue since and recently listened to her most famous book – Company of Liars (review coming soon) and BookEater Kelly fell under her spell as well reviewing The Gallow’s Curse just a couple of months ago.
She’s the queen of the dark ages, unlike many historical novelists though, Maitland’s tales mainly focus on the ordinary people. There may be some lesser nobles thrown into the mix to show the contrast in living conditions, but she’s not trying to chronicle the lives of the Kings and Queens. Her research into how people lived in those times imbues her stories with all the taste and texture you could wish for so you can experience the horrors and deprivations without leaving the comfort of your own home!
This book is no departure from her willing formula, there are secrets uncovered, depths of souls are measured, there are mysteries that are smoked in magic, there is love and betrayal and madness and fear.
Best read by an open fire in winter after a country romp on a grey drizzly day. You’ll be more grateful than usual for your Sunday roast after reading!