Posts Tagged ‘medieval’

All Fall Down – Sally Nicholls

Posted in Children's Books, Historical Fiction, YA Fiction on March 19th, 2012 by admin – 3 Comments

All Fall Down

Published
01/03/2012

Publisher
Marion Lloyd Books

My Rating – 5 stars (if like me, you love excellent historical fiction for children)

Award winning author Sally Nicholls won me over with her wonderful debut novel, Ways To Live Forever,  a poignant contemporary story which was published in 2008.  She has since written Seasons of Secrets (2009), contemporary fiction with a taste of magic, and her latest, All Fall Down, is her first foray into historical fiction, set in Yorkshire during the Black Death in the mid 14th century.

At the moment so much Childrens/YA fiction is concerned with post-apocalyptic dystopias but, as Sally Nicholls points out in a note at the end of her novel, “The Black Death was the single biggest catastrophe in historical memory. The exact number of casualties is unknown, but was probably somewhere between a third and a half of Europe.”  This historical period certainly provides a compelling and dramatic backdrop for the story of Isabel and her family. 

Our story begins in the summer of 1349 and events are narrated by fourteen year old Isabel who lives in the tiny village of Ingleforn in Yorkshire.  She and her family are “villeins”, tied to the land which they rent from the lord of the manor so they can’t just up sticks and leave at the first sniff of pestilence.  Thus, they begin a game of waiting, a tense time during which Isabel and her siblings have to grow up very quickly and cope with whatever fate hurls at them.

Told in the present tense, this is a gripping, vivid tale which will appeal to a range of ages especially those who appreciate interesting, believable characters and writing which immerses you right in 1349, capturing the idiosyncrasies of village life and the burgeoning fear which takes root in the hearts and minds of the villagers.  Will caring for friends who have lost family to the plague end up endangering your own family?  How quickly can mistrust and deceit thrive in this atmosphere of malevolence and decay? 

A lot happens, we get to know many different characters and we experience a variety of settings, town and country, abbey and village church but Sally Nicholls demonstrates such an ease in her writing that the reader never feels rushed or manipulated.  An excellent historical novel with a lot of human heart, highly recommended for readers of all ages and one which will appeal to anyone who enjoyed Pat Walsh’s Crowfield series.

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The Crowfield Demon – Pat Walsh

Posted in Children's Books, Historical Fiction on July 28th, 2011 by admin – 4 Comments

Having really enjoyed the first Crowfield book last year, I was eager to catch up with William and the rest of the inhabitants of Crowfield Abbey including Brother Walter, the endearing hob and the enigmatic fay Shadlock.

It is now March 1348 and a year has passed since the shenanigans involving the fallen angel in the woods and the subsequent battle between good and evil.  Surely, peace will now reign in this cloistered domain but alas, there is no rest for the wicked given the evil aura which seems to be settling over the church at Crowfield, tainting the inhabitants’ thoughts be they awake or asleep.

William, Brother Walter, Shadlock and Brother Snail join forces to track down the source of this malevolence and hopefully conquer it.  However they cannot do this without drawing on pagan powers such as alchemy – where will it all end?  As usual, the rest of the monks look down on William and don’t take his warnings seriously – yes, they will regret it!

Pat Walsh has succeeded in keeping up the pace of her first Crowfield novel, cranking up the tension and increasing the mystery of William’s family, leaving the reader chomping at the bit for the next instalment in this exciting medieval fantasy.  Highly recommended for ages 9-12 and “big kids” too!

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