The ravens of the ancient house of Ravensyard tend to leave when evil moves in; the birds obviously have more sense than the humans in this rather florid 17th-century tale of murder and general nastiness. Young Clemency Holles arrives at Ravensyard to be the bride of Nicholas Talmadge, the ill, gentle heir of John. But among those with an eye on the Talmadge preserves are: John's sister Joan; her fusty, bullying son Dick (who will at one point rape Clemency); her even more evil son Ralph; and John's stepdaughter Marguerite. Moreover, since poor Nick cannot get a child, Clemency must invite Welsh steward David Penellyn (whose family had been dispossessed of Ravensyard) into her bed: their child Stephen, publicly acknowledged as Nick's, is the new heir. And then the ugly stuff really begins: Stephen is hung; Dick's son Joscelyn (next in line) is pushed from the roof; and poison finishes off John, Clemency's sister Alice (she's Ralph's barren wife), and Nick. So Ralph is now in the saddle, and he's up to a good deal of cruel business. . . while Clemency treks north to marry her long-ago true love David (but caring for Ralph's illegitimate son). Finally Ralph confesses all on his deathbed; and Clemency and David return to Ravensyard, only to have it burned by Cromwell's army. Hill (Daneclere, etc., etc.) coasts easily through her period pop, but the multiple murders here may be a bit too much for some goodhearted readers.