The Crowfield Demon: A dark and creepy supernatural read

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fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsPat Walsh The Crowfield DemonThe Crowfield Demon by Pat Walsh

In The Crowfield Curse (2012), young William and his friends and allies righted a long-ago wrong at Crowfield Abbey and faced down the terrifying Unseelie King. But now another evil is rising at the abbey — one that has even the Unseelie King running scared.

The Crowfield Demon is even better and spookier than The Crowfield Curse. I didn’t realize how familiar the abbey had begun to feel after one relatively short book; when the structure begins to fail, it’s like a shattering of the world, albeit a small, circumscribed world. Pat Walsh builds the suspense well. Creepy, inexplicable art in the church; mysterious artifacts found beneath the stones; foul odors; unsettling dreams; hidden documents from the past — all of these add up to a great mystery. William, Shadlok, Brother Snail, and Brother Walter must piece together what’s going on and how to stop it, before things get even worse at Crowfield.

William continues to shine as a protagonist. How much do I love this kid? He’s so brave, and so good at heart. He’s been through some terrible things, and most of the monks seem to value him more for his strong shoulders than for his innate worth. One of the best aspects of The Crowfield Demon is William’s dawning realization that, while he has lost his family, he is beginning to build a new one with his dear friends and is no longer alone in the world. It’s so gratifying to see his life get a little warmer.

I don’t know how many books are planned in the CROWFIELD ABBEY series, but I hope there will be more. Pat Walsh ties together history and folklore to create a terrific fantasy/horror setting, and brings it to life with well-drawn characters, both the admirable and the venal. I recommend these books to younger and older readers alike.

~Kelly Lasiter


Pat Walsh The Crowfield DemonOver five years ago I read Pat Walsh‘s The Crowfield Curse and absolutely loved it. The characters, the story, the atmosphere, the details — it was like it had been written just for me. So I was pretty excited at the thought of a sequel … so excited in fact, that I avoided reading it for years. Knowing there were only two books about William and Crowfield Abbey, I didn’t want my enjoyment of the series to end.

But I had to read it at some point, and now that it’s under my belt I’m a little sad it’s all over. The Crowfield Demon is a direct sequel to The Crowfield Curse, focusing on a young orphan boy who grapples with supernatural occurrences at Crowfield Abbey in 1348. In the last book William solved the mystery of a buried angel with the help of several fey creatures, but now things take a darker turn as clues accumulate pointing to a malevolent being within the abbey’s chapel. (It shouldn’t be too hard to guess considering the answer is in the title of the book).

Frightening things start happening at the Abbey: visions of a crow-headed creature, unaccountable vandalism of murals and statues, and finally the uncovering of a strangely carved bowl. With the help of a little hob and a hunchbacked monk known as Brother Snail, William tries to find a way to contain the demon beneath the abbey, knowing that he’s up against an evil so great he may not survive it.

The Crowfield Demon isn’t quite as good as its predecessor, more of a horror story than a fairy tale this time around, with several characters that fall by the wayside as the story goes on (after such a striking introduction, I thought we’d see a lot more from Robin).

But Walsh’s real gift is in melding folklore with Biblical lore, in which angel/demons and fey creatures co-exist uneasily together, each with their own set of laws and traditions. It reminded me of the fantastic The Secret of Kells film, which similarly explores the side-by-side relationship of Christianity and paganism, each with their own light and dark sides.

She’s also very good at bringing the 12th century to life in The Crowfield Demon, with detailed description on food, clothing, architecture, customs and ideologies. William makes for a likeable and sympathetic protagonist: fearful of the dark forces around him, but brave enough to act in defence of those he cares about.

There’s room left for a third instalment in the CROWFIELD ABBEY series, what with mention of dark times to come, a “light” inside William, the likes of the Unseelie King and Dame Alys still on the loose, and the relationship between William and Shadlok, but so far there’s no sign of any forthcoming book to continue the story. I’ll just have to keep my fingers crossed.

~Rebecca Fisher

Published in 2012. The chilling sequel to the critically acclaimed CROWFIELD CURSE. In THE CROWFIELD CURSE, young monks’ apprentice Will learned he was gifted with the Sight: able to see beyond this mortal coil into the spirit realms of Old Magic. Protected by the warrior fay Shadlok — and befriended by the wry, wary hobgoblin called Brother Walter — the boy is just coming into his strange powers. But now, from its very foundations, Crowfield Abbey has begun to crumble. As Will slaves to salvage the chapel, he discovers something truly terrifying. A heathen creature from a pagan past is creeping up through the rubble — avowed to unleash havoc on holy ground!

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KELLY LASITER, with us since July 2008, is a mild-mannered academic administrative assistant by day, but at night she rules over a private empire of tottering bookshelves. Kelly is most fond of fantasy set in a historical setting (a la Jo Graham) or in a setting that echoes a real historical period (a la George RR Martin and Jacqueline Carey). She also enjoys urban fantasy and its close cousin, paranormal romance, though she believes these subgenres’ recent burst in popularity has resulted in an excess of dreck. She is a sucker for pretty prose (she majored in English, after all) and mythological themes.

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REBECCA FISHER, with us since January 2008, earned a Masters degree in literature at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. Her thesis included a comparison of how C.S. Lewis and Philip Pullman each use the idea of mankind’s Fall from Grace to structure the worldviews presented in their fantasy series. Rebecca is a firm believer that fantasy books written for children can be just as meaningful, well-written and enjoyable as those for adults, and in some cases, even more so. Rebecca lives in New Zealand. She is the winner of the 2015 Sir Julius Vogel Award for Best SFF Fan Writer.

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One comment

  1. I listened to the audio version of Crowfield Curse, which was really good and often creepy. Fortunately, my cat kept cool while I hypothesized aloud on various horrors and monsters which, I fear, could appear along the story ;)
    I didn’t know there was to be a second book but I’ll surely get it.

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