One bleak morning in the eye of winter, five horses and five riders thundered into the remote mountain village of Nag’s End. Without ceremony or respect for local custom, they charged through the square and up the steep alpine trail that lay just beyond (p 1).
The arrival and quick deaths of the king’s men set off a series of disturbing deaths. Add to this the arrival of a group of strangers (a couple and their daughter) with whom Rowan is forbidden from approaching and a Duke who visits Rowan’s father and Rowan’s world is turned up-side-down.
First, the beautiful young woman named Fiona is revealed to be her relation. Then Tom, Rowan’s best friend, falls completely in love with Fiona. But death toll rises and each gruesome body suggests a protean and impossible murderer. Then, the ever friendly Tom becomes truculent and crazed and the villagers become suspicious.
This atmospheric tale has a touch of mystery, fantasy, romance and fairy tale all mixed together. Though it could have benefited from a tighter telling, I recommend it to fans of Marcus Sedgwick and Chris Wooding.