Tag Archives: black death

SD Sykes: Plague Lands (Review)

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.

plague land

 

Buy a signed copy from Goldsboro Books

Oswald de Lacy was never meant to be the Lord of Somerhill Manor. Despatched to a monastery at the age of seven, sent back at seventeen when his father and two older brothers are killed by thePlague, Oswald has no experience of running an estate.

He finds the years of pestilence and neglect have changed the old place dramatically, not to mention the attitude of the surviving peasants.

Yet some things never change. Oswald’s mother remains the powerful matriarch of the family, and his sister Clemence simmers in the background, dangerous and unmarried.

Before he can do anything, Oswald is confronted by the shocking death of a young woman, Alison Starvecrow. The ambitious village priest claims that Alison was killed by a band of demonic dog-headed men. Oswald is certain this is nonsense, but proving it – by finding the real murderer – is quite a different matter.

Every step he takes seems to lead Oswald deeper into a dark maze of political intrigue, family secrets and violent strife.

And then the body of another girl is found.

SD Sykes brilliantly evokes the landscape and people of medieval Kent in this thrillingly suspenseful debut.

Review:

Even as i write this book im still not 100% sure how i feel about it. The author is clearly talented, the descriptions of post Black Death England (1350) is bleak, filled with the tension of communities at the time, the loss the chaos and the vacuum left behind by so many deaths. The story told from the perspective of Oswald de Lacy , a young man thrust into the forefront of his family, the new Lord of Somerhill Manor, a youngest son never expected to inherit, and destined for the clergy, in fact recalled from his monastery to take the reins.

On returning he struggles with running the estate, an estate that is slowly descending into superstitious bedlam, led there by the local priest Cornwall. Oswald is dragged from his closeted existence worrying about the estate to view a murder, a murder that he is led to investigate and leads him deeper and deeper into the lives of the villagers, the superstitions of the people and the secrets accumulated by the families all twisted into this plot. I’m not going to sugar coat it, some of the mysteries don’t take a genius, but at the same time there are parts that keep you guessing. Like another book i read recently The Royalist the plot isn’t the winner in this book its the characters the descriptive and the language of the time period.

I certainly think you should read this book and decide for yourself, because someone i trust very highly with book recommends Kate gives it a very high recommend,  i may even read it again to see if my mood was off or it landed wrong on the day. Either way the book is a descriptive treat and a time capsule on a part of history where few dare to tread, for a debut its very well executed.

(Parm)

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Filed under Historical Fiction, SD Sykes

John Carter: Last Judgement (Review)

John Carter

mystery

John Carter is an author who writes books for Penguin. Officially, John Carter is the pseudonym of a bestselling novelist and academic who lives in the US.

Unofficially, he is an unapologetic addict of toast, mildly obsessed with hiking, and when pressed will admit to not having written The Hunt for Red October.

You can follow him on Twitter @JohnCarterAuth

You can also find him on Facebook at facebook.com/johncarterauthor

Web site Click Here

Book Description

Last Judgement

Last Judgement is a rip-roaring conspiracy thriller debut from John Carter.

In a hidden chamber off the coast of Nova Scotia an ancient tablet has been unearthed. Under layers of dirt is a series of symbols that will lead to one of the greatest treasures the world has ever known. For over 650 years it had remained undiscovered.

Angela Derby, the woman behind the discovery, enlists the help of ex-army Captain, Jack Shepherd and together they decipher the runes and begin a journey across the world. But they are not the only ones seeking the treasure and their quest soon becomes a race to stay alive.

Review

It you love action thrillers, conspiracy thrillers and books which take the unsolved and give you a reasoned (if fantastic) scenario to fill in the blanks, then whats not to like in this book. Its got the mystery of the Templar Knights, a group that has filled hundreds of thousands of pages of thrillers and still in every new one manages to capture the imagination. John Carter (or whom ever he really is….man that’s going to bug me) has utilised Time-slip style to tell the story, jumping from the death of the last Grand Master in 1314 to modern day america and state of the art archaeology with out treasure hunters. We follow the journey of one of the last Knights Templar, escaping the purge of his order, but also on his road to revenge , whilst at the same time we follow that journey in modern times using the clues this Knight left behind and a small group of well funded professionals all with their own reasons for tracking him.

This type of book is very easy to say “yeah right, as if” , but its also very easy to suspend disbelief, to let yourself go and be subsumed by the fantastical and be pulled into a well told story, especially when its told so well and filled with great research into the history being used to drive the plot. The main thrust of the journey rips across the world, taking our heroes from America all the way across the world, the pace is addictive and stops you putting the book down at, even at 1am, stealing sleep at every opportunity. Its that fantastic pace that is used to hide the purpose of the plot, and that you need to read the book to find out, but be warned this book is not just a treasure hunt, there is much more to it, and well worth the time spent on it.

If you are still due to go on holiday, then this is the pool side book you must take with you, if you need a book to eclipse a wet autumn / winter weekend, then look no further, Although this seems to be a debut book by John Carter but Carter is the pseudonym of a successful thriller writer and it shows in this book.

If i had to be slightly critical (and this is purely my own person observation.. i know others who share my enjoyment of this type of book think differently) i found myself wondering why Jack Joined the group, he didn’t provide a stunning difference to the group in terms of skills and he also felt a bit wooden at times. I found the Blackburn’s very well written and also Angela Derby, and also all past characters, Jack felt like the linchpin to pull it together and follow the story, and as such more of a plot leader than a real person… i hope in book 2 he will gain some depth (i’m sure he will, given the writing skill of the author).

I certainly recommend this thriller, but that doesn’t mean i wont be looking for improvement in book 2 (sorry have to push)

(Parm)

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Filed under Action/ Adventure Thrillers, John Carter