Sunday, February 12, 2012

A Killing Season

Prioress Eleanor of Tyndal of the Order of Fontevraud and her companion arrive at a castle on the English coast to help a family in crisis. Not only has the lord of the castle, Baron Herbert, forsaken his wife’s bed, but one by one their grown sons are dying under suspicious circumstances. Is it murder, or has the Devil taken possession of them? With the help of Brother Thomas, Sister Anne and Gamel the physician, Eleanor and her brother Sir Hugh seek to unravel the secrets which plague the family. In this thirteenth century thriller, there is much to be learned about medieval medicine, which was not as backward as is commonly thought. There is a great deal of medieval piety as well, with a strong emphasis on Satan, which makes the story quite dark at times, although Prioress Eleanor always lends balance and good sense to the narrative. The characters are quite true to their era in outlook and behavior; no anachronisms are to be found. They are all involved in their own personal struggles and come to greater self-knowledge by the end of the story, although as in real life it is made clear that each soul is a work in progress. The nature of marital love is explored as well as the commitment of the religious life, each vocation having its joys and challenges. The beauty of true friendship, as people in the Middle Ages understood it, shines through all the storms which surround the beleaguered castle, replacing an old curse with a new blessing.  I highly recommend A Killing Season for those who love both mysteries and medieval tales.

This review originally appeared in the February 2012 edition of the Historical Novels Review.

 (*NOTE: This novel was sent to me by the Historical Novel Society in exchange for my honest opinion.)


No comments: