Till the Day Go Down

Written by Jen Black

The border country between England and Scotland is a lawless and dangerous place in the mid-16th century, so when Harry Wharton, travelling through Northumberland on a secret mission to Edinburgh in the summer of 1543, encounters the alluring Alina Carnaby of Aydon Hall at Corbridge market, he gives a false name. The alias could not be worse chosen, for as Alina casually informs him, “My father hates every Scot ever born”.

Thus begins a lively adventure and a passionate romance, for who is to doubt that Harry and Alina are made for each other, if they can only overcome the plentiful obstacles thrown in their way.

I was slightly distracted by the odd quirky simile (our heroine’s thoughts bobbing about like rabbits in a field) and a couple of encounters between characters that seemed far too convenient. Alina’s tendency to “squawk” or “bleat” in moments of stress did no justice at all to this strong-willed, independent-minded young lady.

That said, Jen Black writes with great verve and gives us a vivid sense of time and place, with a hero and heroine to cheer for and a grand cast of supporting characters, especially the loyal village lad Matho, Alina’s childhood friend.

(Aydon is a real village, and there is an Aydon Castle, which appears much as it does in this book – it dates from the 13th century and was renovated in the mid-16th century.)