"The author has taken on a huge task to chart a crusade and even if some parts don't quite work there are passage of real beauty that demonstrate how Ms Boomsma has genuine potential as a writer."
Cate lives in a town in the east of England with her family. The story opens with a death, an unexplained death that the zealous townsfolk blame on a local wealthy Jew. This sets the religious scene for the novel, one that charts the progress of the town's inhabitants who choose to go on crusade to the Holy Land, via Spain and Portugal. Women are needed hence the presence of Cate and her aunt Mary among the company, women to cook for and care for the men, using their knowledge of herbal medicines. But the way to the Holy Land is not smooth going, and their enemies are not just the Saracens.
This is the author's first full length work and for that it is reasonably accomplished. In places the writing is naive with a preponderance of tell rather than show, 'he did this because so-and-so said that', and some basic novice errors in the terminology, inaccurate clothing, crusaders stopping for lunch, that kind of thing. I'm not too sure of her use of 'Brycgstow' for Bristol, Domesday Book has it as 'Bristou' some sixty years earlier.
But the author has taken on a huge task to chart a crusade and even if some parts don't quite work there are passages of real beauty that demonstrate how Ms Boomsma has genuine potential as a writer. A little more attention to detail and sticking to what she does best will assure her of more success in the future. I would also suggest she finds a very good technical editor to help her iron out the wrinkles, for then we could expect some very good novels indeed. However, a pleasant enough read that does accomplish what the author intended.
© Louise Adam
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