In 1347 at a country monastery, a wondrous mystery unfolds. Collecting firewood in a frozen forest, William finds an unfamiliar cat-sized creature wounded in an animal trap. It moans but also talks, so despite his neck hairs hackling at this incomprehensible being, William brings the hob home to the single sympathetic monk at Crowfield Abbey. As a servant, William's treated badly there, but he makes do, and Brother Snail is kind. The dignified but privately vulnerable hob is only the first new thing in William's world. A wealthy leper, a cold fay warrior and rumors of a dead angel pull William into grave danger—danger he witnesses in a bloody slaughter of woodland animals. Some evil is overt while some is difficult to identify, but William has a careful mind and a gentle core that serve him well. Walsh describes the environment with calm sensory detail, giving readers a palpably damp, frigid winter (though the abbey buildings could have used a diagram). Understatedly tender and mystical yet solid; it ends in temporary peace, with sequel potential. (daily abbey schedule, glossary) (Historical fantasy. 9-12)Copyright Kirkus 2010 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Gr 5-8--Set in England in the winter of 1347, this suspenseful and spooky story will thrill readers who loved Joseph Delaney's "The Last Apprentice" series (HarperCollins). Fourteen-year-old William, whose family perished in a fire 18 months earlier, works as a servant at the local monastery in exchange for his room and board, meager as it is. While gathering firewood, he discovers a creature caught in a trap and saves its life. The hobgoblin tells him that he can only be seen by those with the Sight, a gift the boy did not know he possessed. As the hob recovers from his wounds, Will encounters a mystery that shakes him to his core. There is an angel secretly buried in the nearby woodlands, and a visitor to the abbey, a leper, is determined to find it. For reasons unclear to the boy, Mr. Bone insists that Will help accomplish this goal. With fascinating attention to detail and an edgy battle between evil and good, Walsh sweeps readers almost effortlessly into another time and place. By the close of the novel, they are hoping for more, and the ending suggests that more is to come. A time table of daily life in the abbey and a glossary of monastic terms are included.--Kathy Kirchoefer, Prince Georges County Memorial Library System, New Carrollton, MD[Page 166]. Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.