Set in the winter of 1347, the gripping opening pages of The Crowfield Curse introduce us to William, a 14-year-old boy who had been taken in by the monks of Crowfield Abbey when his family died in a fire. William is about to realise that he has supernatural powers when he rescues from a trap, a hob, a creature no ordinary human is able to see. This coincides with the arrival of two mysterious visitors to the abbey. Are they in search of the angel who, story has it, is buried near the abbey? It seems that the abbey has a sinister secret in its past. William is gradually drawn into the strange happenings disrupting the harsh but uneventful cycle of abbey life, with the realisation that others want to utilise his powers.
The atmosphere of a medieval monastery and the countryside surrounding it and daily life in a community of monks that struggles to survive is splendidly delineated. There is a real sense of the poverty and isolation of the abbey and the darkness of the woods. This provides a credible centre for a story which is unfolded at a rate that heightens tension and leaves the reader wanting to know what happens next. Walsh’s prose is steady and well-paced in a genre in which writing is too often overblown and characters one-dimensional. Here characters are credible. The rescued hob is endearing and adds a comic note at times, relieving the tension of the chilling circumstances into which William is thrust. Readers will undoubtedly await with eagerness the sequel to this highly promising debut novel.