I’ve had a massive head-cold all week and have only begun to think half-straight. Kinda. My apology for a less-than-stellar review, because this novel deserves way better. This is the sort of storytelling which prevents me from speed-reading, well-rounded characters, vivid setting, sound structure.
Katerina has grown up in medieval Hamlin in Germany, during a time when dukes ruled and kings fought each other without regard for peasant life and knights killed in the name of God. There were some good people, of course, by she hasn’t known many. Her stepfather is mayor of Hamlin and a bad man who likes for people to think he’s good.
Katerina is perplexed as she is trapped, unwilling to leave her mother defenseless, incapable of looking away from the suffering of Hamlin’s poor. Yes, the town is overrun by rats who literally swarm after and bite human ankles. But, there’s also a terrible beast who’s taken away dozens of children. Then, she finds one, a little girl, wondering in the forest alone.
At about that time, Steffan happens on Hamlin and decides it’s a great way to impress dear old dad if he slays the beast and rids the town of rats too. He made a mess of things when he grew up and left home. Since his dad’s a duke, that was kind of a big, bad deal. But, he’s determined to truly grow up now and make amends.
Of course, he runs into Katerina, who actually knows what she’s doing. And she sees right through his arrogant jerkwadness. Something about that makes Steffan work harder at truly becoming a man worth believing in. They investigate together, her reluctantly at first, but soon they’re struggling together to solve the mystery of what’s really happening to Hamlin’s children.
Especially after killing the supposed beast.
Maps are found, thugs are dispatched.
Small children are discovered in a mine, digging like slaves.
It doesn’t take like to figure out who the real evil beast is, but dispatching him won’t be so easy.
Gorgeous cover art, vivid storytelling, multi-dimensional characters who are not an Alpha Clone or a Kick-Butt Knock-Off.
Highly recommend. In fact, the author has quite a backlist, so expect to see more reviews of her books here.