Plague Land

S.D. Sykes's debut novel, Plague Land, the beginning of a historical mystery series, is a literary whodunit set in the fearful, plague-ridden English countryside of 1350.

Young Oswald de Lacy had intended to be a monk, but at age 17 was summoned back from the monastery upon the deaths of his father and two older brothers. Suddenly managing his family's estates, the new Lord Oswald is already ill at ease when a village girl named Alison Starvecrow is discovered dead. Oswald and his mentor, Brother Peter, who accompanied him home from the monastery, suspect murder; however, Oswald is hesitant to get involved--until Alison's mentally unstable sister vanishes.

Brother Peter urges Oswald to keep investigating Alison's death, but everyone else--from his bitter sister, Clemence, to his scheming neighbor to the illiterate village priest--seems determined to thwart Oswald. The ambitious priest, convinced that a dog-headed man sent by the devil is guilty of the crimes, is whipping the villagers into a frenzy. Oswald soon realizes that if he doesn't solve the Starvecrow sisters' death and disappearance, he may lose everything, including the estate he thought he didn't want.

Atmospheric and brilliant, Plague Land evokes a dark era, where people were quick to believe in the supernatural. Oswald is a thoughtful and intuitive character, in spite of his youth, and Plague Land's haunting denouement is sure to leave readers eager for the next in the series. --Jessica Howard, blogger at Quirky Bookworm

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