The Crowfield Curse (Crowfield Abbey #1)
Set in England in 1347, The Crowfield Curse tells the story of William, an orphaned boy taken in by the monks of Crowfield Abbey. One night, he rescues a trapped hob, a small, sharp-featured solitary fay with reddish fur and a long tail, and in so doing discovers that he has the Sight, the rare ability to see fairy beings. Soon afterwards, a leper musician cursed with eternal life and his fairy servant arrive at the abbey and begin asking questions about a dark secret the holy brothers would sooner forget. Inexorably, William is drawn into a conflict between the Seelie and Unseelie (good and evil fairy) Courts, a conflict which takes him into the darkest, most haunted corner of the forest and leaves him open to the wrath of the Unseelie King.
Ms. Walsh, an archeologist, provides more than enough historical detail to give her work a spine of realism. The abbey Will lives in, the monks and their duties, the buildings in which they live, work and pray, the liturgical hours that govern their day are all richly and accurately described. This gives even the most fantastic elements of the story an underpinning of truth, which makes them all the more believable and frightening.
Aimed at 8 to 12 year old readers, The Crowfield Curse manages to be dark without being depressing, to be hopeful without being sugary. The story ties up enough loose ends to be completely satisfying and yet leaves just enough ends flapping around that another story about William and his hob seems ready to begin. I, for one, cant wait to read it.