A turbulent time in British history draws to a shocking end.
In the fall of 1216, Prince Louis of France has invaded England, and King John is fighting for his kingdom. Many of his barons have already gone over to Louis, but John still has loyal friends like Josse d’Acquin, who lives quietly in the House in the Woods with his family. His wife, Helewise, most of his sons, and Meggie, his daughter by his late former lover, the mystical forest woman Joanna, agree with Josse’s support of John, but other members of the family dissent. When John sends a message calling for his help, Josse, his brother Yves, and Geoffroi, Josse’s son by Joanna, leave to seek the king. Meggie, who has inherited her mother's healing gifts, is called to Hawkenlye Abbey to tend a woman who arrived with her son and has so far resisted any attempt by the nuns to heal her body and mind. Meggie and her lover, Jehan, have been divided by his unhappiness with the time she spends in her mother's secret hut deep in the woods, and he’s sneaked off to join a band of fellow Bretons who plan to kill the king. At the abbey, Meggie finds Hadil and her son, Faruq. Hadil, deeply disturbed in her mind, insists that she must continue her secret quest to find the queen and overcome the power of a mysterious object of great evil. When Hadil is injured, Meggie agrees to go with Faruq, and he slowly learns to trust her with his knowledge of a mystical, dangerous secret rooted deep in the past of Jerusalem. When the three groups of travelers accidentally come together, their meeting will change their lives and the history of Britain.
As usual, Clare (A Rustle of Silk, 2016, etc.) provides a pleasurable combination of mysticism and historical fact. The secret of that evil object makes this one of her better mysteries.