In the woods above the quiet mountain village of Nag’s End, five soldiers of the king are mysteriously killed.
Village elders presume it was a wolf attack, but Tom and his brother Jude are convinced that no animal could have inflicted the horror that they saw up on icy Beggar’s Drift. Tom’s best friend, Rowan Rose, is warned by her scholar father not to succumb to the others’ fear of witches, goblins and wood sprites. But it becomes hard to ignore the strange goings-on, especially after Fiona Eira, a cousin Rowan never knew she had, arrives. Tom, who’s looking for a “grand love,” thinks he’s found it with the enchanting Fiona. He gives her a coin he found on Beggar’s Drift that may be connected to a greater evil than anyone imagined. A complex, layered plot highlights a split between those who cling to traditional beliefs and young people who look for rational explanations for what turns out to be a string of grisly deaths in the village and surrounding forest. Twists and turns keep readers in suspense as Rowan, Fiona, Tom and Jude navigate a convoluted path through sibling rivalry and friendship en route to adulthood.
With stylish prose, richly developed characters and well-realized worldbuilding, Templeman plumbs archetypes of folklore to create a compelling blend of mythic elements and realistic teen experience. (Fantasy. 12-17)