Review Blog

Aug 11 2009

Dark angels by Katherine Langrish

cover image

HarperCollins, 2009. ISBN 9780007214891.
(Age 11+) Recommended. After being abandoned by his parents at the monastery at the age of five, and terrorised by Brother Thomas, Wolf flees to the hills, where he is pursued to Devil's Edge by a pack of dogs. Believing that they are the Hounds from Hell, he runs and becomes even more terrified when he glimpses a strange little figure escaping into a cave. This is a place known to be inhabited by elves, goblins and demons. When Sir Hugo finds him, Wolf leads him to the elf child and finds himself at Sir Hugo's castle, looking after the strange creature he names Elfgift. Nest, Sir Hugo's daughter, is determined to do something worthwhile before she is married and with Wolf she takes the elf child into her care.
I was drawn into this compelling medieval tale right from the beginning. It is so engrossing and well researched that it took me straight into the times of the Crusades, into a world on the border of Wales and England, where Celtic myths are mixed with Christian beliefs. The description of a place where people look at things differently makes for fascinating reading. The simple acceptance of the supernatural by the inhabitants of Sir Hugo's castle adds depth and interest. I found myself, like the characters in the book, believing in the existence of the White Lady, an ethereal ghost who begs to be allowed inside and the hearth hob who plays mischievous tricks on Wolf.
Langrish's characters are wonderful. I became absorbed in the character of outspoken Wolf, and longed for a happy ending for strange Elfgift and Nest. The unhappy Sir Hugo, obsessed with the belief that he could recover his wife from Elfland, and the dangerous jester who beguiles him with strange songs and stories, are brought magnificently to life.
There is plenty of action for those who like adventure stories. With its vivid descriptions of medieval life, strong characters and often frightening mysteries, this is a book that was very difficult to put down.
Pat Pledger

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