Music of the Distant Stars


Alys Clare’s Aelf Fen novels are set in East Anglia during the reign of William II (1087-1100). It’s a land that still believes in the thin and porous veils between the worlds, although in process of the loss of the ancient, magical England upon which the Romans superimposed their civilization and which went underground with the Norman Conquest. The animistic faith of healer apprentice Lassair sees life and spiritual meaning in everything from stones to the flight of birds. She has come to honor her recently departed grandmother when she finds another body in her grave, and the mystery is afoot.

Lassair soon wonders why a sweet-natured seamstress of visiting gentry had to die. Suspicion creeps uncomfortably towards the woman her brother intends to marry and her simple-minded sibling, newcomers to the community. Another body is found, compounding the mystery and adding suspects, until the killer traps Lassair herself.

This midsummer murder mystery in the brooding fenland of half-water, half-earth is infused with a wonderful dynamic time period, engaging characters, and great dialogue from the gentry, the Fenland village’s inhabitants, and the more mystic-minded sorcerers. The young heroine Lassair is not only a practical healer under her aunt’s tutelage, but is being singled out by a wizard for a spirit quest. She is endearing, exasperating and true to both her age and Age—a wonder of creative construction! Highly recommended.

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