- Barbara Copperthwaite
Review: THE BUTCHER BIRD, SD Sykes
"I thoroughly enjoyed this blast from the past. It’s time to get medieval!"
Oswald de Lacy is growing up fast in his new position as Lord of Somershill Manor. The Black Death changed many things, and just as it took away his father and elder brothers, leaving Oswald to be recalled from the monastery where he expected to spend his life, so it has taken many of his villagers and servants. However, there is still the same amount of work to be done in the farms and fields, and the few people left to do it think they should be paid more - something the King himself has forbidden.
Just as anger begins to spread, the story of the Butcher Bird takes flight. People claim to have witnessed a huge creature in the skies. A new-born baby is found impaled on a thorn bush. And then more children disappear.
Convinced the bird is just a superstitious rumour, Oswald must discover what is really happening. He can expect no help from his snobbish mother and his scheming sister Clemence, who is determined to protect her own child, but happy to neglect her step-daughters.
From the plague-ruined villages of Kent to the thief-infested streets of London and the luxurious bedchamber of a bewitching lady, Oswald's journey is full of danger, dark intrigue and shocking revelations.
If you like your crime fiction with a touch of history, you’ll love this book. Set in 1351, just after the Black Death ravaged Britain, it features Oswald, a 19-year-old with secrets in his past that threaten to be unmasked. As if that isn’t enough, he is faced with the murder of a child, which his superstitious friends and family are convinced has been committed by a bird sent by the devil – the Butcher Bird. It is up to Oswald to not only solve the crime but avoid causing a lynch mob in the process.
What’s so wonderful about this book is that not only does it feature a fascinating crime, with inevitable twists and red herrings, and characters that are utterly realistic, but it manages to bring history alive too. It’s not dry and boring. You’ll feel as if you have been transported back in time to Medieval times – a time full of people just like you and me, from annoying mum’s to nagging sisters. Entertaining, absorbing, and also educational, I thoroughly enjoyed this blast from the past. Give it a try – it’s time to get medieval!