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Authors: Pat Walsh

The Crowfield Curse

BOOK: The Crowfield Curse
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Acclaim for

 

“A wondrous mystery. Understatedly tender and mystical yet solid.”

—
Kirkus
, starred review

 

“Suspenseful and spooky. With fascinating attention to detail and
an edgy battle between evil and good, Walsh sweeps readers almost
effortlessly into another time and place.”

—
School Library Journal
, starred review

 

“Walsh writes with a sure and steady hand, deftly blending the historical details of medieval monastery life with the magical elements of the mythical supernatural creatures. The hob, with his unintentional wit and well-timed comic relief, is the true standout of the cast. The growing tension will compel readers toward the climactic battle in the woods and its
terrifying conclusion.”

—
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

 

“Dotted with evil curses, dead angels, and dark places. Walsh expertly mixes the fantastical with the humdrum necessities of medieval life.”

—
Booklist

 

“Altogether captivating . . . beautifully evoked . . . as charming as it is exciting . . .

absolutely perfect.”

—
The Times of London

 

“A real page-turner.”

—Joseph Delaney, author of The Last Apprentice series

 

An USBBY Outstanding International Book

 

A CCBC Notable Book

 

New York Public Library “100 Titles for Reading and Sharing”

 

A
Kirkus Reviews
Best Book of the Year

T
HE
C
ROWFIELD
C
URSE

PAT WALSH

TO
JOHN,
DAVID,
AND KATE

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

COVER

ACCLAIM FOR

TITLE PAGE

DEDICATION

CHAPTER ONE

CHAPTER TWO

CHAPTER THREE

CHAPTER FOUR

CHAPTER FIVE

CHAPTER SIX

CHAPTER SEVEN

CHAPTER EIGHT

CHAPTER NINE

CHAPTER TEN

CHAPTER ELEVEN

CHAPTER TWELVE

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

CHAPTER FIFTEEN

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

CHAPTER NINETEEN

CHAPTER TWENTY

CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE

CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO

CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE

CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR

CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE

CHAPTER TWENTY-SIX

CHAPTER TWENTY-SEVEN

CHAPTER TWENTY-EIGHT

CHAPTER TWENTY-NINE

WINTER TIMETABLE

GLOSSARY

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

TEASER

COPYRIGHT

C
HAPTER
ONE

 

WINTER 1347

 

 

W
illiam crouched behind the fallen oak tree and listened. Close by, someone — or something — was whimpering in pain.

“Oh, for pity's sake . . . my leg.” Soft groans, a snuffling grunt, and then, “My leg! Oh, my leg, mylegmylegmyleg, my leeeeg . . .”

Cautiously, William got to his feet and peered over the trunk of the tree. He could not see anyone. He stared around the woodland clearing uneasily. Frost rimed the hanks of dead grass and thin branches of hazel and elder bushes. Nothing moved. The whimpering stopped and William had the uncomfortable feeling he was being watched.

“Who's there?” he called. He waited for several moments, and then called a little louder, “Do you need help?”

There was no reply.

William climbed over the tree. He lost his footing on the icy bark and fell, landing heavily on his hands and knees.

“Kill me, why don't you?” a voice said, weak with pain and despair. “Land on top of me and finish the job. What is one hob more or less?” The voice trailed away into a low moan.

Startled, and more than a little alarmed, William scrambled to his feet and stared around. There was a movement in the grass by his feet. He leaned down to take a closer look. The first thing he saw was a pair of large green eyes, flecked through with splinters of gold. The eyes stared back at him warily. Then he saw a small, pointed face, the skin as brown as a beechnut, pointed ears that ended in tufts of reddish brown hair, and a small, skinny body no bigger than a cat's. A long, thin tail curled and uncurled around the body. He was a creature the like of which William had never seen before.

For a few moments, William's mind went blank. He stared down into the large, watchful eyes and felt the hairs on the back of his neck hackle. This was neither animal nor man, but he could speak. What manner of creature could do that? Fear stroked a cold finger down William's spine. His mouth had gone dry and his tongue stuck to the roof of his mouth. Part of him wanted to turn and run, but another part of him was rooted to the spot by curiosity.

And then William saw the blood, and the crude iron trap that gripped the creature's leg in its rusty jaws.

“Oh, no,” he breathed, horrified. “Stay still and I'll try to free you.” Whatever the thing was, he could not leave it to suffer like that.

Pushing his fear aside, William looked around for something to pry open the trap. He grabbed a fallen branch and carefully wedged it between the jaws, taking care not to touch the creature's injured leg. Slowly, he began to force the jaws apart. The creature gasped and, glancing down, William saw him clamp his mouth tightly shut against the pain.

“I'm sorry,” William muttered. “It's going to hurt, but I can't help that.”

The creature nodded and closed his eyes, and seemed to brace himself for William to continue.

Watching the small, pain-twisted face, William leaned his weight on the branch. The rusted hinge squealed. William gritted his teeth at the noise. The creature gripped his leg with his paws and eased it out of the trap. His fur was matted with blood and the leg was twisted at an unnatural angle. William let go of the branch and the trap bit into the wood, almost snapping it in two.

“Your leg is broken,” William said, “and that cut is very deep. If you let me take you back to the abbey, Brother Snail will be able to help you.”

The creature shook his head. He rocked back and forth, keening under his breath with the pain. “No, no, no, no.”

“But you can't even walk by yourself, and you won't last long in this cold. The abbey is not the warmest of places, but it's better than freezing to death out here, and Brother Snail is skilled at bonesetting.”

The creature sat hunched on the frosty ground, his long, thin arms wrapped tightly around his trembling body. The wound oozed dark blood. “No.”

William shrugged helplessly. “You don't really have a choice, unless you have someone else who can help you.” He looked around uncertainly. Were there more of these creatures in Foxwist Wood? And what had he called himself? A hob? “Is there anyone?”

BOOK: The Crowfield Curse
8.18Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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