It’s late winter, 1348, and although William brought peace three months ago by freeing an angel from a deathlike limbo (The Crowfield Curse, 2010), mystery and danger stir again.
Will’s provisions at Crowfield Abbey are meager and physical comforts nonexistent, but he works hard and takes solace in companionship with three friends: Brother Snail, a frail, elderly monk; Shadlok, a glowering fay bonded to William though a curse; and a small, tender, talking animal known as a hob, called Brother Walter because his real name mustn’t be known. Something’s terribly wrong on the Abbey grounds. Walls are cracking, and the church tower crashes to the ground, throwing stone everywhere. While helping a stonemason clear a side chapel, Will uncovers a buried wooden bowl. Symbols and Latin reveal that the bowl ensnares a demon. Raum was once an angel but fell from grace; now he’s escaping the bowl, bent on vengeance against the Abbey and hunting Will’s pure soul. Alchemy to rebind Raum to the bowl fails, and he’s free, placing Will in the monks’ nightmares so they turn on him, burning nearby cottages, wreaking deadly havoc. Walsh’s sensory setting is cold and rainy. Will’s character is likably sturdy; he’s a hero, but a quiet one.
This appealingly atmospheric historical fantasy melds Christianity and magic with conviction; eager readers will hope for another sequel. (Historical fantasy. 9-12)