This is a fantastic book. It takes place during medieval times in the aftermath of one wave of the Black Plague. The main character is Oswald de Lacy, the leftover son, one who was never intended to inherit; in fact he was sent to the monastery at the age of seven, so he has no qualifications and no knowledge of overseeing the family manor and accompanying lands. However, during the latest out-break of the black plague his older brothers have died, and the family fortunes have landed in his lap.
Oswald is singularly unable to rule either his lands or his people and he knows it. He is a young seventeen year old who has never learned to stand up for himself, let alone his “people”. He has inherited all kinds of problems, the aftermath of the plague being the worst one. This is a time when the village needs a strong leader to follow, and Oswald has no idea of how to lead. Society has begun to unravel due to the number of people who have died from the plague. There is disarray, and Oswald has no idea of what to do.
I’m not going to tell you the story, since I really hope that you read this book for yourself. It is both a coming of age book and a thriller. There are murders, threats and more than one plot twist. In fact I never saw a few of the twists coming, which in my mind makes for an extraordinary book. I really liked the relationships between the remaining living members of Oswald’s family; and I would love to read the next chapter in Oswald’s story. So here’s hoping that Sykes continues the story of this immensely interesting family in another book.