Summary: In 1350, the Black Death has ravaged England leaving half the population dead and 18 year-old Oswald de Lacy as the unexpected and unwilling Lord of Somerhill Manor. Having left the monastery to assume his responsibilities, Oswald is not prepared for all that running the Manor entails and when two girls from the village are brutally murdered he is thrown headlong into the investigation. He is convinced there is an earthly explanation for the murders despite the local priest’s claims that satanic dog-headed beasts are to blame.
Review: Overall Plague Land is a solid historical mystery. Sykes does an excellent job of evoking the period and the book is filled with historical detail. Oswald can be a frustrating protagonist because he is so unsure of himself, as befits an 18 year-old whose spent most of his life in monastery and is not prepared to be the lord of an estate, but in the end he proves to be worthy of the task set before him. He grows throughout the book and it will be interesting to see the character grow as the series progresses. The mystery itself is well-written and fast-paced. The case takes unexpected turns that will keep you reading.
Read-a-likes: I’d highly recommend The Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin for anyone looking for a medieval mystery and The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco is a fantastic more literary take on the medieval mystery.