The second volume of a projected quartet of historical/paranormal novels is as sloppy as the first, Changeling (2012).
Five disparate characters travel through 1453 Italy together: Isolde, kept from her own lands by her brother; Ishraq, her companion, close as a sister; Luca, novice member of a secret papal order; Freize, Luca’s amiable and intelligent manservant (and the only fully realized and attractive character); and Brother Peter, who seeks to keep them all in line. Brother Peter and Luca are seeking signs of the end of days, and the young women are headed toward Isolde’s godfather for assistance. They happen upon a band of child crusaders certain the waters will part for them to walk to Jerusalem. In the one compelling moment of storytelling, a tsunami sweeps the children and much of a seaside town away. The townspeople behave like a cardboard mob, first praising those who survive, then accusing Isolde and Ishraq of bringing the great wave. Those two girls, inseparable as companions, suddenly have a vicious fight (over Luca). The story concludes, with little progress made, in a scene, between Luca and a lord of the secret order, that is probably meant to be creepily erotic but ends up only creepy. As before, Gregory mixes odd nomenclature and modern phrasing (“Saved our bacon at Vittorito,” Frieze says of Muslim Ishraq) into the unfocused plot.
Another miss, and we’re only halfway through the series. (Historical fiction. 14-18)