AN UNHOLY COMMUNION
by Donna Fletcher Crow
In this third novel of The Monastery Murders Series, Donna Fletcher Crow turns to well-researched consideration of the occult.
Felicity Howard wakes from dreaming of a black-clad figure plummeting to death from a tower, only to see the actual event happen and the body roll to a stop at her feet. The apparent suicide is Hwyl Pendry, a former student of Felicity’s fiancé, Father Antony. In the hand of the deceased is a paper bearing the emblem of a double-headed snake, and the paper bursts spontaneously into flame as Felicity watches. Research reveals that Pendry was the “deliverance minister” for his diocese in Wales, meaning that he was the priest who dealt with suspected demonic phenomena. And questions arise whether the apparent suicide was actually murder.
Without notice, Antony is forced to substitute as leader of a Youth Walk pilgrimage that traces the route of a popular Middle Ages pilgrimage. Felicity joins him for the walk, though unimpressed with the motley and often troublesome group of young people involved. Neither Antony nor Felicity intends to follow up on Pendry’s death, yet that and other unexplained events dog them throughout the pilgrimage:
The double-headed snake emblem keeps turning up, the youngest pilgrim tells of conversations with a lady none of the others can see, one pilgrim is injured because of a push from an unseen hand, two pilgrims are mesmerized and unable to tear themselves away from two pagan graves until Antony persuades them to speak the name of Jesus, and Antony himself, in an apparent trance, almost walks off a cliff. These incidents continue and magnify until the author weaves them coherently into a thrilling climax harking back to the original precipitating incident.
In this novel, Donna Fletcher Crow again shows her intimate knowledge of the English countryside and her mastery of English cultural history back to Roman times. As in her other novels, these fascinating details raise the narrative above mere suspense and visions of the occult. The novel is well researched: In an afterword, the author states that all of the novel’s paranormal occurrences are “fictionalized accounts of events” reported in the nonfiction books that are her sources.
Readers of this excellent novel will find much more to enjoy than an entertaining story of suspense and romance. They will emerge with an enhanced knowledge of the rich spiritual heritage of English cultural history.
|Donna Fletcher Crow Researches The Monastery Mysteries|
Reviewed by Donn Taylor, author of The Lazarus File, Deadly Additive, Rhapsody in Red, etc.