Delightful medieval murder mystery A younger son, Oswald de Lacy, returns to his family s estate from a monastery with his mentor tutor after the death of his father and two older brothers to become the heir Immediately he s faced with a mystery murder of a young girl Encouraged by Brother Peter, the mentor tutor, he begins to investigate A suspect is clapped into jail There s another murder, the suspect is freed, and finally the suspicion points to Oswald I guessed the perpetrator early on, but what intrigued me was the whydunnit Red herrings abound Long held secrets are revealed The revelations seemed somewhat unbelievable to me, but considering the s of the time.A fast paced, well written story, I couldn t put it down although I was dubious at first I got a feeling for life in a Kentish village of that period with both nobles and peasants I took as comic relief the incident with Earl Stephen at Oswald s trial, and some of the occurrences involving Oswald s sister and mother The book began typically for a murder mystery, then becameandoriginal Action became faster and faster until the ending was a bit rushed Was that cover a Breughel That was a happy addition portrayal of a fantastical, plague ridden world Novel is highly recommended. Set in a small village of Kent in 1350 The Black Death has changed Europe forever, killing up to a third of the population, with no regard for class Oswald deLacy, sent to a monastery at seven is sent home ten years later to become Lord of Somershill Manor after his father and both his older brothers were killed by the plague He finds the estate badly run down with so many of his tennants dead and those left behind struggling to feed themselves His mother and sister are no help but expect him to step into his father s shoes overnight and restore their wealth On top of that a young girl is viciously murdered and her younger sister is missing The village priest, a poorly educated man has filled the peasants heads with tales of dog headed men sent by Satan roaming the village and is demanding they spend their time praying rather than tending the estate Young Oswald must therefore grow up fast to solve these mysteries and fight off his neighbour Lord Versey who has his eyes on both his sister and his lands.This was an enjoyable historical mystery, set in an interesting time and place I felt it could have been darker andatmospheric to make the mysterychilling and threatening The priest s rambling story of dog headed men being responsible for the murder never seemed very tangible or disturbing as there were never any signs or sightings to instil fear into the villagers However, it was a good debut novel with plenty of intrigue and I look forward to reading the next book in this series based on Oswald and his family 3.5 Oswald De Lacy Was Never Meant To Be The Lord Of Somerhill Manor Despatched To A Monastery At The Age Of Seven, Sent Back At Seventeen When His Father And Two Older Brothers Are Killed By The Plague, Oswald Has No Experience Of Running An Estate He Finds The Years Of Pestilence And Neglect Have Changed The Old Place Dramatically, Not To Mention The Attitude Of The Surviving PeasantsYet Some Things Never Change Oswald S Mother Remains The Powerful Matriarch Of The Family, And His Sister Clemence Simmers In The Background, Dangerous And UnmarriedBefore He Can Do Anything, Oswald Is Confronted By The Shocking Death Of A Young Woman, Alison Starvecrow The Ambitious Village Priest Claims That Alison Was Killed By A Band Of Demonic Dog Headed Men Oswald Is Certain This Is Nonsense, But Proving It By Finding The Real Murderer Is Quite A Different Matter Every Step He Takes Seems To Lead Oswald Deeper Into A Dark Maze Of Political Intrigue, Family Secrets And Violent StrifeAnd Then The Body Of Another Girl Is FoundSarah Sykes Brilliantly Evokes The Landscape And People Of Medieval Kent In This Thrillingly Suspenseful Debut Overall, this was an enjoyable read, but it seemed rather incomplete Some characters and situations could have been taken further or explainedfully It is not as much about the plague as it is about a community in the aftermath of the disease Contains vivid descriptions of life in the 14th century, which could be very brutal. I cannot praise this novel enough It combines a thoroughly enjoyable mystery with a fascinating and truly quite horrifying portrait of life in a small Kent village in the immediate aftermath of the devastating Black Death I really enjoy Sykes style More, please RecalcitranceI love the genre of medieval mystery and was really looking forward to starting the series of books about Oswald de Lacy Unfortunately, on a few points, it didn t really deliver for me.The protagonist, Oswald de Lacy, was so hapless and naive in dealing with his estate, his tenants and then the murder of a young woman that he just became difficult to empathise and engage with There are particular societal protocols prevalent during that period with regards inheritance, family values and allegiance to a master, whether that master is the landowner, priest, bishop, lord or king In particular, Oswald s decision making in relation to his sister and de Caburn just left me bewildered England in the 1350 s after the black plague, was a very harsh and superstitious place and the imagery is very well depicted creating a good sense of the atmosphere As a whodunit, it does try and keep you guessing but sometimes in an attempt to outwit, it became a bit flaky There is a good twist at the end for the whodunit fans.I would recommend this book for the story and setting, but the characters left mefrustrated. A really great medieval story Very entertaining, full of intrigue New talented writer A sequel to follow Hopefully, enjoyed this one immensely Recommended. I would not have picked this book up except that it was chosen as the book of the month of one of my good reads groups, Ancient Medieval Historical Fiction I am so glad I did The book is wonderful The novel is set in medieval England just after the end of the plague The young main character, Oswald de Lacy returns home after spending the years of the plague at a monastery for safety He returns to find the manor has not been kept up and few people left to run the estate He also finds there has been a murder And then there is anotherOswald must find the people person who committed these murders all the while trying to take on the mantle of lordship he is not prepared for The peasants have become enad of the local priest who is spewing religious nonsense and spreading stories about mythological monsters And his mother and sister are holding tightly to family secrets This makes for a wonderful context in which to create suspense and keep the reader highly engaged The author knows her history The setting and context and well researched and the characters ring true I picked up the book and had trouble putting it down This is a book I would recommend to both mystery lovers and historical fictions lovers. Sent to a monastery at the age of seven Oswald, the youngest son, never expected to inherit his family manor and holdings Thanks to the plague which has devastated the land, taking the lives of Oswald s father and two elder brothers, leaving only his mother and sister Clemence at home he now has new and big responsibilities form which he was never trained With Brother Peter, whose care he had been under for over ten years at the monastery, he arrives to take his rightful, position of the new Lord of Somerhill.He finds everything has changed, and he finds one of his tenants has been murdered He will set out to find the killer but before he does many other things, will need his attention The writing in this novel is buoyant, kind of airy and it sets itself up admirably against the darkness of the Middle Ages A corrupt priest who plays on the superstition of the people, using the power and fear of the church to try to direct things his way There are many revelations, some good people that are considered bad morally but prove a sharp contrast to those who are in a position that demands morality but are corrupt in many ways Secrets are eventually revealed that will change the course of the story again and again Though most is solved by book s end there is one tiny plot line that may just contain a cliffhanger that may indicate another book, possibly a series I hope so, I really enjoyed this book, the characters and the time period. The field of medieval mystery solving historical fiction is generally speaking bogged down with the mediocre Obviously there are exceptions to this CJ Sansom, Mel Starr, Susannah Gregory And this story is the start of a new series that is definitely better than the average.Set just after the Black Death in 1350, landowners struggle to harvest their lands and gather rents from the severely reduced number of peasants Oswald de Lacey, the youngest 18 year old son, is recalled from a life at a monastery to run his family estate as the only surviving male There he is met with Death on his estate.I am no expert on medieval history but the author captures the superstitions of the time and I enjoyed the story Most importantly I didn t guess the culprit until it was revealed.Recommended.
SD Sykes Sarah lives in Kent, but grew up in Somerset and then South London She is a graduate from Manchester University and was inspired to finish her first novel, Plague Land, after attending the novel writing course at literary agents, Curtis Brown She has also written for radio and has developed screenplays with Arts Council funding She has a passion for medieval history, and her books in
- 340 pages
- Plague Land
- S.D. Sykes
- 22 January 2019 S.D. Sykes