When you like Post-Apocalypse SF stories you will like this historical novel. Yes you read that correctly.!!
It is 14th century England and a strange illness spreads like wildfire from one demesne to the other killing most people. No one knows what it is or what causes it.
England is in those days a feudal society. The king is the feudal lord of dukes and earls. They are the feudal lords or barons and those are the ones mere knights swear fealty to. On the domains work and live the serves who are more or less slaves tied to the land and unable to leave. Though there are also towns with freemen.
The demesne Develish is owned by a poor knight who has just that one manorhouse and the serves working there on his demesne in a valley in Dorsetshire. He is married to Lady Anne and they have a daughter. The man is a total jerk and stupid to boot. His wife however had some training because she was raised in a nunnery. She can read and write and knows basic healing. When he is away from home and tales of the mysterious illness reach Develish Lady Anne decides that all the people of the village should come inside the manor and behind the moat. She reasons that in her convent ill sheep were separated from the healthy ones and that helped prevent illnesses spreading.
The book is a very good read. I was two days glued to my Kindle. The Middle Ages came alive. Instead of a "death everywhere"-story it is a layered story that also deals with the aftermath of a pandemic. Ok they are not ill but can they go and find food? What happens when a whole area is death? How can you see this in a religious concept? What happens when there is no law and order? What will happen with them without an heir?
There are also a lot of personal secrets to be revealed.
I really enjoyed learning stuff about the Middle Ages that I did not know or realised like the banishment of cats or the fact that the average person never left his village and had no idea what was behind the hills,
So far the positive things about the book. I also have some negative things to say:
1) Minor detail: something is off with the editing. Some words starting with an f like flooding are spelled f looding;
2) What other reviewers also mentioned: Anachronisms. I cannot imagine abortions in such a religious and ignorant time. Also the people think the Plague is caused by rats. And hints are given to the flees who carry that disease. But that was only discovered in the last century. People used to think it was a punishment by God or cause by air (hence the birdmen masks of the doctors that were stuffed with vinegar. Side effect a flee hates vinegar). And why would a moat protect them? Rats can swim.
But that is not the only thing that made me wonder about the historical correctness. No woman would be able to refuse her lord and master. And even when a lady would be a good person I cannot imagine her thinking she is equal to her servants. Another thing is the Saxon-Norman thing. Was that not done and dusted by then? It is more than 150 years after the Battle of Hastings.
3) BIGGEST SOURCE OF IRRITATION: Suddenly my Kindle stopped and I thought it malfunctioned. Turned out it was the end of a first book of a series. That was nowhere mentioned. I would be so pissed off if I had paid 12 dollar for just a partial story (and part 2 not even printed) even when it is a long story. Yes you can write a series but end then book 1 on a logical moment. For instance the boys expect Taddeus to leave for France. When the writer would end the story the moment he leaves Develish to find his fortune elsewhere it would be a logical moment to say "to be continued".
A real 5 start story but I deducted one for the crappy ending.