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Reader Reviewed
Plague Land by S. D. Sykes
  

Plague Land

Part of the Oswald de Lacy Series
Historical Fiction   Crime / Mystery   Debuts of the Month   eBook Favourites   
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June 2015 Debut of the Month.

The fourteenth century is widely believed to be a terrible time in which to live. Here, in 1350, the Black Death has left half the population dead, the fields empty and a novice monk in charge of a lord’s holding. A great time to set a murder mystery. Superstition is rife; the devil’s hand appears in everything. It is far easier to blame him for atrocities than seek a human culprit. This has an easy style which is a pleasure to read but the shadow of the plague hangs over everything, making all feel dark and sinister. I enjoyed it and I believe we can expect more. ~ Sarah Broadhurst

If you like S. D. Sykes you might also like to read books by V.M. Whitworth, Ellis Peters and C C Humphreys.

Reader Reviews

In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title. You can click here to read the full reviews.

  • Beth - 'A compelling piece of historical fiction that takes the reader back to a different time. As a debut novel this is a fascinating read that I think fans of Karen Maitland will enjoy. I look forward to seeing what this author does next.'
  • Evelyn Barrett - 'With twists and turns aplenty, lies, family secrets, supernatural murders, a society in flux and one young man needing to grow up very quickly, Plague Land is a memorable book.'
  • Victoria Goldman –  'Plague Land kept me hooked from the first page. A very well-written historical crime novel, set just after The Black Death. Plenty of twists and turns to keep me guessing.'
  • Jo-anne Atkinson –  'Entertaining story set in the post- Black Death 14th Century.  Murder stalks superstitious Kent, is it Demonic or is the answer more prosaic?'
  • Sarah Musk - 'An enjoyable whodunnit set in 14th century England.'
  • Marjorie Lacy - 'I have read a lot of books about this period in history. I think that this is one of the best.'
  • Karen McIntosh - 'The mystery unfolded slowly at first but the last third of the book was gripping and certainly kept me guessing all the way.'
  • Lynda DeFreitas - 'The novel has been well researched by the author, and the glossary explains all the medieval words found in the book.'
  • Rachel Aygin - 'The descriptions are so vivid you can imagine the smells, tastes and sounds of the period as well as the sights.'
  • Ann Alderton - 'A compelling page-turning murder mystery set in the vividly portrayed and meticulously researched post-plague era of 14th century rural England.'
  • Peter Baiden - 'Unfortunately, for this reader, Plague Land does not fully satisfy as a 'murder mystery', although it is well researched and well written.'
  • Christine Procter - 'Propelled into the post plague lands of the 14th century this is a harsh fiction of compelling poverty and strife that you'd expect and much more.'
  • Keith Currie - 'The author successfully avoids that pitfall while permitting a significant helping of humour among the blood, terror and death.'
  • Susan Mooney - 'From one of my favourite eras in History, S D Sykes is on a winner with this 10/10. Superb!'

Synopsis

Plague Land by S. D. Sykes

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.

Reviews

Sykes's debut provides everything a reader would want in a historical mystery: a gripping plot, vivid language, living and breathing characters, and an immersive depiction of the past. * Publisher's Weekly * Sykes has really reset the bar for medieval mysteries . . . every clue brings with it unexpected twists and turns. When you think you know who the killer is, you're slapped with yet another surprise. * Medievalists * PLAGUE LAND is a fascinating historical crime novel about a world turned upside down, inhabited by a rich cast of characters. A terrific debut and a wonderful start to a brand-new series. -- Antonia Hodgson, author of THE DEVIL IN THE MARSHALSEA There's a nice, cliche-free sharpness to Sykes
writing

. . . that suggests a medieval Raymond Chandler at work, and there are no phony celebrations of the peasantry or earth-mothers thrusting herbal concoctions down grateful throats. Plenty of action and interesting characters, without intervention of the libertarian modern conscience that so often wrecks the medieval historical novel. * Independent * A novel full of suspense and intrigue that will have you gripped. * Best magazine * Sykes's damp, depopulated, miasmic Middle Ages is well evoked, making this an impressive debut with at least one sequel on the way. * The Herald, Scotland * The medieval CJ Sansom -- Jeffery Deaver


About the Author

S. D. Sykes

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.

Author photo © Keeley Hoad Photography

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Book Info

Publication date

21st May 2015

Author

S. D. Sykes

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Author's Website

www.sdsykes.co.uk/
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Publisher

Hodder Paperback an imprint of Hodder & Stoughton General Division

Format

Paperback
352 pages

Categories

Historical Fiction
Crime / Mystery
Debuts of the Month
eBook Favourites

Historical mysteries

ISBN

9781444785784

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