Land of Shadows – Priscilla Royal

Note to self: always check a book’s position in series before requesting from Netgalley … I didn’t realize that this was the twelfth book in its series … That may account for the feeling of being lost at sea that prevailed through much of the reading. Obviously, I haven’t read any of the rest of the books, so my opinions are all based on taking this by itself.

Have you ever noticed how once you learn a new word you seem to see it everywhere? This book does something like that, only different: once I noticed that characters had blushed three times in just a handful of pages, for odd or silly reasons, it seemed like that was all I could see as I read on. Not just blushes – lots of characters’ faces turned all kinds of colors.

Thomas flushed.
Thomas felt his face grow hot.
Her face turned pink at his kindness
He blushed.
Eleanor flushed with anger.
Walter’s face now faded to a dull pink.
face flushed with shame.
Richard turned as pale as milk.
the heightened color of his lord’s face,
his face turned a light shade of purple.
The knight turned pale.
The man was as pale as moonlight.
He flushed
Maynard blushed again,
He turned purple with profound humiliation.

I don’t think that’s all of them, but it’s most of ’em. And it’s plenty. When something like that recurs over and over, it might be a sign that the writer needs to find a new way to express her characters’ emotions.

I liked the story – murder and anti-Semitism in 1279 England, and … well, yes, Goodreads description, of course this is going to bring Brother Cadfael to mind when it’s set in a medieval English abbey, though I would have gone with Sister Frevisse. But I found the details confusing at times; this time my excuse for choosing a book in the middle (late middle) of a series – did I mention that this is #12? – is that I missed that bit in the Netgalley description. It was obvious – there were half-formed references throughout the book that obviously meant nothing to me.

This was another book that took a lot longer to read than it ought to have. The muddle left by my cluelessness of the previous eleven books’ events, along with some slightly clunky writing and a heaping helping of head-hopping to add to the confusion … Someday I would be interested in tracking down the other eleven and starting at the beginning. I don’t recommend starting here.

The usual disclaimer: I received this book via Netgalley for review.

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