Reviewed by Teresa G on Oct 24, 2016
Set in 1350 Kent, Plague Land reveals the changes the Black Death has wrought upon the English countryside and how those changes are unraveling the very fabric of life. Oswald de Lacy, the youngest son of the Lord of Somerhill Manor, has been called home from the monastery where he's lived since he was seven years old. At the age of eighteen the care of the manor and all its lands and inhabitants has fallen on to his woefully unprepared shoulders. With him at Somerhill is his mother and sister and a priest from the monastery who fled to avoid the plague that had broken out there. The book begins with the mysterious death of Alison Starvecrow. When the local parish priest insists she was murdered by the Cynocephalus, men with the heads of dogs, Oswald knows he must find the real killer. He has no belief in the Cynocephalus. Before his investigation has barely begun there is another murder, Alison's sister, Matilda. Neither his mother, nor his sister, Clemence, has faith in Oswald's ability to find the killer. Through a series of twists and turns many secrets are revealed and the killer is unmasked. But, the book ends with a cliff hanger. Time to read the next book in the series, The Butcher Bird!
The historical setting is extremely well realized. The plight of the landed gentry after the plague has ravaged the countryside has been delineated with skill. I only wish Oswald had been a more likable character. He wasn't unlikable, but I didn't particularly like him either. By the end of the book he is maturing so, perhaps, in the next book he will rise in my estimation.
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