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Customer reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars

on 23 January 2010
Pat Walsh's atmospheric debut offering is a historical fantasy with a magical twist. Gone are the expected swords and battles, and in their place are mysterious angels and loveable hobs.

A hob is a fay creature, with similar physical attributes to that of a fox. They can hold conversations as well as the next human, and prove quite useful when unravelling age-old mysteries of angels buried in nearby forests. Brother Walter is a lovely little guy, and due to my enthusiasm for tiny creatures, I fell in love with him straight away. He was by far my favourite character, though Brother Snail came a close second. I had a bit of trouble connecting with William, just because he didn't present himself as a particularly endearing character. I liked him more as I got to know him, but he didn't leave a strong impression on me.

The setting of The Crowfield Curse is fairly unusual for a YA book, and isn't something I remember coming across before. An isolated abbey makes for an intriguing place of residence for the monks, and provides a sense of isolation that makes the story seem that much more ominous.

The arrival of two strangers sees life at Crowfield Abbey take a turn for the creepy, and William uncovers a local legend of sorts. With the help of Brother Walter and Brother Snail, a fascinating history unfolds, and that's when the story really finds its feet. Up until that point, things move along at a fairly slow pace, while Walsh sets everything up with the utmost attention to detail.

1347 is an interesting time period to explore, and this is one of The Crowfield Curse's most appealing elements. Walsh took a chance on an almost forgotten time, and I think it more than paid off. I can't wait for the sequel and the return of the fay creatures, and I just hope Brother Walter keeps himself out of trouble!
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 14 September 2010
Targetted at the 9-12 age group, this is a very engaging read suitable for all ages. It is 1347 and our narrator, 15 year old William, is taken in by the monks at Crowfield Abbey when his parents perish in a fire which William miraculously survives. These are hard times and William has to work very hard for his keep in freezing conditions with little food available to any of the inmates. His only ally at the abbey is Brother Snail, a healer who helps William when he discovers a "hob" (fox like faerie creature) injured in the woods. Thus the magic begins and as this medieval fantasy/mystery unfolds there are encounters with varying species of fays (both from the Seelie and Unseelie Courts i.e. good and bad!), talking animals, ancient curses, the legend that an angel lies buried in the woods. It is the aforementioned angel which provokes a battle between good and evil and William treads a very dangerous path as his benefactors have concealed the story of the angel and his grave for over a hundred years.

At times this reminded me of a junior version of Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose (0ne of my all time favourite reads) given that it's set in a medieval abbey with all its secrets and skullduggery. William is not a particularly perspicacious young detective as he tends to stumble into discoveries but he is a gentle, likeable soul, kind to animals and much more open minded than most of the monks. It would appear he his gifted with the "sight" which allows him to see and rescue the "hob" known as Brother Walter as giving its real name would give someone else power over it. William's youthful optimism and willingness to investigate the unknown are at odds with the cloistered, claustrophobic nature of the abbey and its inhabitants. The abbey setting is very atmospheric and gives the novel that brooding feeling of tension and suspense.

An enjoyable creepy tale whose medieval setting makes it stand out amongst other children's fantasy novels. Looking forward to the sequel, The Crowfield Demon, to be published in Spring 2011.
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on 10 January 2010
The Crowfield Curse is the story of William who sadly loses his family in a mysterious fire. He is the only survivor and is taken in by the monks of Crowfield Abbey to serve them in return for a place to stay. William's life at the abbey is a hard one and the author detailed the brutal living conditions in fourteenth century with a beautiful accuracy. I had expected the monks to treat William with fatherly care and stern guidance but it is only Brother Snail who provides William with any affection. The remaining monks enjoy the harsh way of life they have chosen to live and do not think of William as anything other than a nuisance and a servant. Poor William has no room of his own but sleeps by the kitchen fire shivering with the cold. William isn't a complainer. He fears the retribution from the monks and so keeps his true feelings hidden.

Early in the novel William saves the life of a hob; a magical creature who is mistrustful of humans. The hob questions the behaviour of the monks and consequently William is confronted with difficult questions about religion and belief. He wonders about the mortality of angels, about the power of God and about the morality of the right to be buried within hallowed ground. The Crowfield Curse is by no means a religious novel but religion is something that William has to question as his character journeys through the novel.

Two other important characters in the story are Jacobus Bones and his Fey servant Shadlok. It is their entrance in the story that propels the plot forward. Up until this point, I felt the plot was slow as it centred upon the daily routines of the monks which in nature are highly repetitive. William is fearful of both men and perhaps rightly so. Shadlok's magic disturbs William because it alters his understanding of the world and he feels powerless against it. There is a darker atmosphere to the book once these two characters arrive at Crowfield Abbey and the author did an excellent job of creating a sense of foreboding.

Overall, I enjoyed reading The Crowfield Curse. The author uses description beautifully to evoke the fear of the Whistling Hollow and to portray the beauty of nature. William is a character who I pitied and yet related to enough to hope that he would get his heart's desire. I think this book would appeal to boys 10+ who have a particular love of historical facts. The detail of the historical setting was of the highest quality. I also recommend The Crowfield Curse to fans of historical fantasies in general.
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on 8 November 2011
I was hooked on this book right from the start! Set in a little monestery, the main characters, Will, is a lovely character, and really made me enjoy this story, but what really got me was the way that, throughout the first third of the book, there are little creepy things carefully hidden, the forest where we find Will at the start of the book is very creepy, and it has a dark secret.

In the forest is buried an angel, a creature no one thought could die. it has been hidden for years, and no one knows where it is. But along comes a man, infected with lepresy, who along with his servant, wants to hunt down the body of this angel to use for their own purposes. However, the angel's body is also being hunted by the Dark King, one of the rulers of the Fay world, which overlaps with the human world, and it is believed that it was the Dark King himself who killed the angel many many years ago.

This book was highly addictive, so much so that I ordered the 2nd book as soon as I finished the first. as you read, things become much more clear but also start to pose so many questions, and the ending just had me on the edge of my seat! I can't wait to read the next book!
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on 5 August 2011
William Paynel is not like other people. Not only did he survive a fire that killed his whole family, but he has the Sight, a gift that allows him to see the fay world that is hidden from others.

He discovers this gift one morning while he is gathering wood for the monks at the monastery where he lives, and he hears a strange voice. When he realizes the voice is coming from a small animal-like creature, his world is turned upside down.

William quickly frees the creature from a trap, befriends him, and takes him to Brother Snail, the monastery's healer. With this friendship comes an introduction to a mystery that the monks have been covering for centuries, two enigmatic strangers, and a dangerous enemy.

Hobs, the Seelie Court, the Unseelie King, and angels are just a few of the magical beings that are entrenched in the secret of Crowfield Abbey and its curse.

Walsh creates such a captivating story with her first novel that readers won't want to put it down. Woven into the story is a history lesson that is so subtle that it will enchant while it teaches.

Reviewed by: Theresa L. Stowell
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on 4 March 2015
I found this on the"Scary Books" shelves in the children's section of my local library and its a very good example of superior Junior Fiction. Walsh is giving her young audience exactly what they want as this is both dark and creepy and with an involving plot. It is set in 1347 in and around an abbey. Will is a thirteen year old orphan residing at the abbey when he rescues a hob (goblin) from a trap and becomes involved in uncovering a century-old scandal. This turns out to be an angel being shot by a fairy king with the monks burying the body. The whereabouts of this body is sought by a leprosy-ridden visitor and his strange manservant. The pace is just right- not too frenetic, allowing the reader to savour what is going on, which boosts up the creepiness. It's full of period detail and has a dramatic highspot suggestive of a more contemporary "Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe." Some characters are a little underdrawn, like Hob (ready for the sequel?) and Dame Alys from the village but all the ends tie up effectively and I really enjoyed it. This book would perfectly fit the reader considering themselves to be growing out of children's lit (but not ready for teenage fiction). Since this book was published Pat Walsh has produced a follow-up "Crowfield Demon" and the first book in her Hob Tales sequence "The Hob And The Deerman", both of which I will look forward to reading.
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on 3 May 2010
Admittedly, I only bought this book because it was one of my Amazon recommendations, and because I loved the front cover, but I'm glad I did.

Other people have already outlined the story, so I won't go into detail there, apart from to say that there's a very fantastical air to this book: It's full of mythical creatures; hobs, dark kings, seelie and unseelie warriors, but ultimately, it's very much grounded in reality. Life in 14th century England is described in convincing detail, and the whole setting is so bleakly atmospheric that it didn't take much imagination on my part to understand what Will was feeling throughout the book....mainly cold!

I've read one or two YA books recently, but this is different (in terms of setting) from any I've read before, and is definitely a favourite. It's well written, well plotted, extremely thought-provoking and has great characterisation - Brother Walter, the hob, in particular, is just adorable! Highly recommended for children and big kids alike!
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on 11 October 2016
The Crowfield Curse gets a plug from Spooks' Apprentice Joseph Delaney, as well it might. They're similar in a number of ways. But Crowfield Curse has the awakening to a magical world, rather than imagining a world where witches and spooks are common currency, and it also has (frankly) a less annoying main character than young Tom, who seems too often to get into trouble by being a bit too pig-headed. Set in the confines of a monastery, there are some digs at organised religion, and the main dramatic action seems takes a little too long, but it's entertaining fare even if you'd hope the sequels get Will out of the daily routing serving the Brothers as early as possible (good for one book, might be a bit dull for two...).

Time to pass it over to my nieces and nephews and see who bites!
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on 13 January 2010
I love this book so much! Pat Walsh has crafted a world you can immerse yourself in, with an austere, creepy setting and a range of characters who are both believable and engaging. The hob, a rather cranky creature that William discovers in the woods nearby, is a wonderful creation.

This book is so good I kept reading bits out to anyone who would listen. I would recommend it to any Harry Potter fans looking for something new to read, but I also think pretty much anyone would enjoy escaping into world of The Crowfield Curse for a while. Can't wait for the next one...
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on 14 November 2012
This book is great and set in the time of monks{think of cadfael and your their}. I can't wait for the third book as i got the second straight after me and my daughter finished this. It is written beautifully and really draw's you into the time and the book i don't want to give the plot away as it get's into the mystery/story pretty quickly. The great thing about this book is the author uses old terms for the monks day to day live's that are explained.The author really researched the time her story is set in. I recommend this book so highly 5* aren't enough with it's amazing character's and masterful storytelling!!!
Don't delay buy this book you won't be disappointed!!
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