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#83 The Crowfield Curse by Pat Walsh

After his family’s mill burns down, William finds himself the only survivor. He is sent to live at Crowfield Abbey, where the monks provide food to eat and a place to sleep in return for hard labor. William’s life becomes more interesting when he comes across an injured Hob in the forest. Although he is unfamiliar with such strange creatures, William cannot stand the sight of another in pain, so he agrees to take him back to a trusted confidant at the Abbey for treatment. Then a strange man and his servant arrives at the Abbey, and their presence brings to light a curse which has plagued the Abbey for a hundred years.

The Crowfied Curse is the first in a planned historical fantasy series. One of it’s strongest elements is the medieval setting, an isolated English Abbey in 1347. I really appreciated how the author took time to include accurate historical details. She even provided a couple of appendixes in the back if the book. The appendixes provide definition for potentially unfamiliar medieval terms, as well as an explanation of the monks daily timeline. Walsh did a great job at immersing the historical readers in the setting, without overloading the audience with details. The fantasy elements are quite interesting too. Admittedly, The Crowfield Curse is not the first book to tackle the subject of faeries and similar fantastical creatures, but Walsh’s decision to mix in Christian elements keeps things interesting.

The Crowfield Curse has a much quieter air than some of the big names in middle grade fantasy. William is a more understated character, notable for his compassion rather than his wit, and the pacing of the story is much calmer, relatively free of drama and action until it’s powerful ending. As a result, some readers might find this book a bit slow for their tastes, but it really worked well for me. I read the vast majority of it in one sitting and never felt as if the pace was lagging. I loved how the Hob character (called “Brother Walter”) brought so much humor to the story, which helped to keep it from becoming too grim. I also enjoyed the character of Shadlock, and am happy it looks like he'll be a regular character in this series.

By the end of The Crowfield Curse, the main storyline has ended but plenty of questions are left unanswered, clearly setting the reader up for at least one more book. I am very curious on where Walsh plans on taking the characters next, so I plan on reading the sequel, The Crowfield Demon, which is set to be published in the US in February of next year. The Crowfield Curse is a good recommendation for people that enjoy fantasy books for middle readers (as well as some young adults), especially for those that can appreciate a more sedate pace,

Rating: four and a half stars
Length: 326 pages
Source: Readfield Community Library
Other books I've read by this author: This is my first

Next I will be reviewing Xenocide by Orson Scott Card

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Tags: xxx author last name: r-z
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