Hawkenlye Mystery, Bk 10
Hodder & Stoughton
March 2010 / ISBN 0340923865
Historical Mystery /England-1195
by L J Roberts
First Sentence: In the forest the new season was flourishing.
The Abbess Helewise of Hawkenlye for the future of her Abbey. Much
of their revenue comes from alms given by those who visit the Abbey
for its healing waters. Now, however, Florian of Southfrith claims
to have found the bones of Merlin and pilgrims are visiting there
instead. The Abbess asks for the help of her friend Josse d’Acquin
first to investigate the truth of his claim and, later, to find
out who killed Florian.
Every time I watch an episode of Cadfael, I want to read
Alys Clare as they are set in the same period and have a similar
feel about them. Fortunately, I have all the books in the Hawkenlye
series, so it’s an easy craving to satisfy.
Clare establishes a sense of time and place with descriptions that
are vivid and evocative. Her dialogue is so well done, it is nearly
audible. Her voice is distinctive and memorable; there is no question
as to whose book I am reading.
The series need not be read in order as Clare is very good about
establishing the back story for the principal characters. At the
same time, with each book, I look forward to knowing the characters
a bit better and see the relationships between them grow and change.
Clare’s characters are ones with whom you become involved
and invested; you want to know what will happen but in the way of
friends rather than a soap-opera manner.
The story is a well-done blending of history and the “real”
world with mythology and the magical world, including a very credible
explanation for the legends of Merlin and King Arthur. I appreciated
Josse’s skepticism of the bones found at Glastonbury being
those of King Arthur and Guinevere, but it also served as a reminder
of just how old is England’s history. Josse and the Abbess
are firmly rooted in the real, yet accept the possibility of things
for which there is no explanation whether from the old religion
of the new. Joanna represents the old religion yet acknowledges
non-mystical explanations for some things which occur. It is this
extremely well-done balance which prevents the story from floating
completely into the space of the paranormal.
Most of all, what draws me back, book-after-book, is the well-plotted
mystery and just a cracking good story with a very interesting revelation.
I’m ready for my next visit to Hawkenlye.