A supernaturally gifted young woman is torn between two men.
Lassair, whose magical powers have been nurtured by her aunt, has been learning from the wizard Gurdyman in Cambridge. During the year her lover, Norman spy Rollo Guiscard, has been absent, she’s developed strong feelings for Jack Chevestrier, a Cambridge law officer she nursed after he was attacked by Gaspard Picot, the nephew of the corrupt sheriff. When Lassair discovers she’s carrying Jack’s child, she flees to her home in Aelf Fen to consider what to do. Her aunt has recently married Hrypre, who also has strong magical powers, and she feels uncomfortable in their home. After Hrypre’s son, Sibert, is attacked and badly beaten, she moves into his home to nurse him. Sibert is the third blond young man attacked in the area and the only one to survive. When Rollo suddenly appears and begs for help to escape a determined enemy, she agrees to pose as his wife. Dressed as a wealthy couple, they head north, where Rollo seeks protection from King William. In the meantime, Jack, who’s slowly regaining his health, has noticed a mysterious figure keeping watch on Picot’s house, which is still occupied by his wealthy widow. After the widow is savagely murdered and the house burned to the ground, Jack captures the spy, who denies doing any harm but is obviously hiding secrets that would help solve several crimes. Lassair and Rollo’s trip proves to be extremely dangerous. They narrowly escape death several times before seeking refuge in a well-hidden area near Aelf Fen. In the end, the two puzzles come together with a revelation that leaves Lassair to face more sorrow and difficult choices in her future.
Clare’s (The Night Wanderer, 2016, etc.) newest medieval mystery blends history, romance, and a challenging puzzle.