Review Blog

Jun 11 2010

The Crowfield curse by Pat Walsh

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Scholastic, 2010. ISBN 9781906427153.
10+ Fantasy. Highly recommended. Gathering wood in the forest is part of William's work living at Crowfield Abbey as a servant after his family's death in a fire. But he hears a voice full of pain and looking around finds a small animal, a hob, about the size of a cat, but it can talk. His leg is caught in an illegal trap, and William frees him, taking him back to the Abbey to Brother Snail, the healer. Both keep knowledge of the hob to themselves, but things in the Abbey are on edge as the Abbot is dying and two guests, an unusual event, are about to come and stay. Seeing to the guests William realises that one, Master Bone, is a leper, and his carer Shadlok, a cold man with piercing eyes, asks him detailed questions, bordering on things William knows but does not wish to tell. Sent to the woods to let the pigs forage, William is startled by the appearance of Shadlok who claims to have saved him from the fay in the forest, and asks him more questions.
Many years before an angel had been killed protecting a hob, and now Master Bone and Shadlok want to find the grave to dig up and use the bones to cure the leprosy. William is torn. There are forces in the forest which seem to know all about him and what he is about to do but Shadlok has placed a spell on Brother Snail, placing him in a coma forcing William to do his bidding. Retrieving the angel from its grave does not have the results William expects.
A masterful story, The Crowfield Curse had me putting the book aside, partly because of its tension, but also because I did not want the story to end. The cold, isolated abbey, with its handful of thin, wasted men, keeping close the reasons for the curse, is an apt place for a dead angel to lie buried. The curse winds its way into the reader's consciousness, giving reason for the angel being there, showing why the monks are so bitter, and why they keep a feather in the sacristy cupboard. But William is warned that he is in danger, so leaving the way for a sequel. I can't wait.
Fran Knight

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