SD Sykes lives in Kent with her family and various animals. She has done everything from professional dog-walking to co-founding her own successful business. She is a graduate from Manchester University and has an MA in Writing from Sheffield Hallam. She attended the novel writing course at literary agents Curtis Brown where she was inspired to finish her first novel. She has also written for radio and has developed screenplays with Arts Council funding.
THE BUTCHER BIRD
Published by Hodder & Stoughton in hardback
22nd October 2015
Oswald de Lacy is growing up fast in his new position as Lord of Somershill Manor. The Black Death changed many things, and just as it took away his father and elder brothers, leaving Oswald to be recalled from the monastery where he expected to spend his life, so it has taken many of his villagers and servants. However, there is still the same amount of work to be done in the farms and fields, and the few people left to do it think they should be paid more – something the King himself has forbidden.
Just as anger begins to spread, the story of the Butcher Bird takes flight. People claim to have witnessed a huge creature in the skies. A new-born baby is found impaled on a thorn bush. And then more children disappear.
Convinced the bird is just a superstitious rumour, Oswald must discover what is really happening. He can expect no help from his snobbish mother and his scheming sister Clemence, who is determined to protect her own child, but happy to neglect her step-daughters.
From the plague-ruined villages of Kent to the thief-infested streets of London and the luxurious bedchamber of a bewitching lady, Oswald’s journey is full of danger, dark intrigue and shocking revelations.
This is book two in this series, and always an interesting prospect for any author, but especially a new author. Book one Plague land was reviewed here and if i’m 100% honest is pretty much on a par with book one. Once again the author offers a charismatic portrayal of the time period, and wraps the warp and weft of the crime thriller around the complex dark and atmospheric local climate of the period.
SD Sykes Characters are once again the clear winner in this story, breathing life into a story that may not have held my attention as well as it did without their truly lifelike portrayal. SD Sykes is one of those writers who can give you you the smell of the place along with the description, you take in all the detail the author gives you and your brain fills in the sensory gaps giving an immersive portrayal of the time. Probably the best section of the book is when Oswald journeys across the bleak English landscape of post plague England to London, but a London very different to the one we know, a city of migrants, of people escaping the hinterlands of England and the plague destroyed villages.
So once again, a thumbs up, recommend this book , and the series… you don’t get characters like this every day, so go read them…. i do however hope book 3 gives a little more complexity to the twists and turns. (but that could also be because i’m a jaded old book reviewer who reads too much)
4/5 stars though
Somershill Manor Mystery
1. Plague Land (2014)
2. The Butcher Bird (2015)