Clare, Alys – ASHES OF THE ELEMENTS

ASHES OF THE ELEMENTS (Historical-England-1100s) – G
Clare, Alys – 2nd in series
Hodder & Stoughton, 2000- UK Hardcover – ISBN 0340739339

Abess Helewise discovers a dead body by nearly stepping on it. The man had been killed by a spear with a highly decorative point. Although the Sheriff is willing to blame the murder on the “Forest People,” a group who live and wander through the forest practicing pagan ceremonies, Helewise doesn’t accept this. Enlisting the help of her friend Josse d’Acquin, they find poachers who’ve uncovered ancient treasure, pagan rituals, a link to two of the Abby’s residents, a couple with ties to Queen Eleanor and death.

While I like the characters of Helewise and Josse, the story left something to be desired. The anachronistic language was a bit disconcerting and there was one, I thought interesting, plot element that was dropped. The scene of the pagan ritual was perhaps more graphic than I needed, but did serve its purpose to the story. I did like that the author included both the new Christian and old Pagan beliefs without condemning either. I found this an enjoyable, but not a great, read.

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