ASHES OF THE ELEMENTS by Alys Clare
St. Martin's Minotaur, April 2001
After a death at the Hawkenlye Abbey, Abbess Helewise and her friend Sir Josse again join together to determine the killer. The man was killed with a flint spear, yet who in medieval England would have preserved the ancient skill of flint-knapping? The Sheriff is prepared to blame mythical forest people, yet Helewise fears that he is more interested in reducing his own workload than in finding the truth. When another murder occurs, Helewise knows that only she and Josse can determine the truth--no one else is even looking.
In this sequel to the fine FORTUNE LIKE A MOON (see our review), Josse and Helewise explore the ancient forests that still covered much of England (this would have been at the same timeframe as the Robin Hood myths). Dark secrets still remained in those old growth forests and outsiders were rarely welcomed. Yet could the myths of ancient goddess-worshiping tribes be true? A changling child in the abbey, a woman who seems to bear a terrible secret, and a treasure of old Roman coins and gold complicate the mystery.
Author Alys Clare (see more BooksForABuck.com reviews of novels by Clare) writes convincingly of early medieval England. Unlike FORTUNE, however, the setting of this book is largely in the a-historic forest. The growing but impossible attraction between Josse and Helewise helps drive this story forward. Unlike FORTUNE LIKE A MOON, however, ASHES IN THE ELEMENTS is less driven by Helewise and Josse than swirling around them. Although both remain as perceptive as ever, neither seems able to get to the bottom of the mystery without someone telling them what actually happened.
Purchase ASHES OF THE ELEMENTS from Amazon.com (hardback).