Book Review: The Hunted Hare

6 Nov

The hamlet of Pennant Melangell consists of a church and a few cottages and lies in a mountainous part of North Wales that is so remote that it is, even today, only barely accessible to cars. It is the ancient pilgrimage site for the medieval Saint Melangell and is still visited by those seeking healing.

The Davison family has come to Pennant Melangell seeking spiritual refuge as their family faces the reality of Jenny Davison’s terminal cancer. Jenny and Aidan have visited before, but this is the first time they have brought their daughter, seven-year-old Melangell, to the place which inspired her name.

New since their last visit is a lavish hotel–The House of the Hare–a grand project conceived and financed by local businessman Thaddeus Brown. The Davisons are impressed by the extensive facilities developed with the needs of the sick, weak, and disabled in mind. Jenny is particularly excited by the archery range with modifications that will enable her to shoot arrows even in her extremely weakened state.

But instead of a place of healing, this sacred location becomes a place of doom when Thaddeus Brown is found dead, an arrow in his eye. Suspicion falls on those who have used the archery range, including Jenny along with Brown’s vulnerable young niece Lorna. As Aidan works to clear his wife’s name, young Melangell goes missing. Is the murderer also a kidnapper? Or does The House of the Hare harbor more mysteries? And who might be the next victim?

The first of a series of new mysteries featuring Aidan Davison and set in what celebrated fantasy novelist Fay Sampson describes as the “thin” places of the Celtic world.

Excerpt

Fay Sampson is a widely published author with a particular interest in fantasy and Celtic history. She has been shortliste for the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize on three occasions and is a winner of the Barco de Vapor award.

My Impressions:

I am so thankful that Kregel brings UK books to the American audience. I have read and reviewed several books by UK authors that otherwise I would never have heard of. One of these is Fay Sampson, author of many adult and children’s books including her latest, The Hunted Hare, book 1 in the Aiden Mysteries. The Hunted Hare is a British mystery in the finest sense — a wonderful sense of place and well-developed characters.

Aiden and Jenny Davison, along with their 7 year old daughter Melangell, have come to Pennant Melangell in Wales to revisit the site of an earlier, happy time in their marriage and to perhaps capture the healing essence of this ancient and holy place. Jenny is in the last stages of ovarian cancer and is looking for peace. But their quest is soon disrupted. All is not peaceful at the House of The Hare, the lodge devoted to housing pilgrims to the church of St. Melangell. The owner, Thaddeus Brown, is murdered and the Davisons are swept into the mysterious goings on.

While The Hunted Hare is a well-written mystery and a great glimpse into the Celtic history of Wales and the thin places of that world, it is its handling of Jenny’s illness that spoke to me. Jenny and Aiden are struggling with Jenny’s impending death. Their sorrow is bolstered by a hope that the special healing miracles of St. Melangell will come to them. But they wonder if the healing will take the form of the physical or the spiritual. The book is at once sad and hopeful; real qualities of a life lived in faith.

I would definitely recommend The Hunted Hare to anyone who enjoys a British-style mystery. I am also looking forward to book 2 in the series, Death on Lindsfarne.

Highly Recommended.

(I received The Hunted Hare from Kregel in return for an honest review. The opinions expressed are mine alone.)

 

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