Wednesday, 27 May 2015
HISTORICAL CRIME FICTION REVIEW: Plague Land - SD Sykes
Release Date: 23/05/15
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 thePlague, 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 peasants. Yet some things never change. Oswald's mother remains the powerful matriarch of the family, and his sister Clemence simmers in the background, dangerous and unmarried. Before 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 strife. And then the body of another girl is found. SD Sykes brilliantly evokes the landscape and people of medieval Kent in this thrillingly suspenseful debut.
I love a book that makes the readers ask questions as well as giving you a glimpse into the past and that’s exactly what this title does for the reader. Hidden within this gem of a book is a tale of murder, a principle character unprepared for the life he is about to undertake and when added to those who would abuse power warring against what is right, it creates a tension that will keep the novel turning throughout.
The prose is solid with dialogue that furthers the story but for me the real triumph is the principle character who I not only learned to love fairly quickly but was one I wanted to see succeed in the position for which he had absolutely no training, leaving him to hit not only the floor running but having to juggle a good few issues at the same time. All round a cracking read and a title that I hope will be expanded into a series. Top notch.