cover image Blood of the South: An Aelf Fen Mystery

Blood of the South: An Aelf Fen Mystery

Alys Clare. Severn, $28.95 (240p) ISBN 978-0-7278-8432-9

At the start of Clare’s impeccably paced sixth Aelf Fen novel (after 2013’s Land of the Silver Dragon), apprentice healer Lassair helps rescue a foreign woman and her infant son from a mob in Cambridge in the fall of 1093. When Lassair and the sheriff’s man, Jack Chevestrier, later go looking for the woman’s missing family members, receding flood waters reveal a body that raises suspicions of murder. Meanwhile, Lassair’s Norman lover, Rollo, is on a covert mission to Miklagard (modern Istanbul) and the Holy Land for King William. New Age fans will appreciate how Lassair employs a “shining stone” to see events occurring elsewhere. As she grows more confident using the stone’s power, she becomes more assertive within her extended family and community. Clare does a good job generating tension by shifting the narrative in between England and Byzantium. Adding period flavor are the religious feelings characters evince at the beginning of the Crusades. (Jan.)