Sunday, January 22, 2012

English Setting Novel at It's Best!




Title:  Unhallowed Ground
Author:  Mel Starr
Copyright Year:  2011
Publisher:  Monarch Books
            A man who commits suicide or was he murdered?  Buried where?  Why?  The year is 1360 something in an unfamiliar land and unique sounding words describe people, positions, and responsibilities.  Never before has such a novel attracted my attention…until now.
            Mel Starr has written “chronicles” of a character named Hugh de Singleton.  This character has more than one job in his village.  What the name of the village is, I can’t say.  What is this character’s occupation?  I can’t spoil the book and reveal what he does.
            He is caught in a web of intriguing mystery that twists many times almost like a rope.  Maybe that is why there is a picture of that on the cover.  It sure grabs one’s attention doesn’t it?  In the language of the setting, it seems like one is transported to a time where words such as almoner, farthing, bailiff and Cow-ley were ordinary words.
            When I first looked at the book and read the words and definitions, I was thinking I bit off more than I could chew.  Would I understand the story or not?  Would I be able to follow the characters while trying to figure out the plot?   After the first few pages of chapter 1, I was hooked.  I had to know how this medieval novel ended.  I kept reading as I was carried away to Bampton, following the actions of priests, sires, bishops, and carpenters.  There are many more fascinating people in this story who travel to other lands to seek answers.
            Sometimes when one reads a novel the characters seem so unreal; however, Mel Starr has done a superb job of helping his readers “feel” the human part of mankind in the story.  Never before have I read a book where the setting has taken place in medieval times.  Prior to Unhallowed Ground, I would have just looked past the book to genres I am more familiar and comfortable with reading.
            I cannot recommend the Chronicles of Hugh de Singleton enough.  If Mel Starr wrote his past and future novels with the same brilliance as he did this one, he has found a loyal fan indeed!  Most novels are based on some known, unknown or little before known fact in history; Mel Starr’s writings are no different.  There are other books in this series of chronicles, though each one stands alone, and are titled:  The Unquiet Bones, a Corpse at St. Andrews Chapel;  A Trail of Ink and then the forthcoming book, The Tainted Coin. 
            These are stories you will surely read more than once, maybe even getting them for family members, friends or coworkers who love a good mystery.  I don’t want to spoil the suspense felt as the book is read so I won’t let the preverbal “cat out of the bag” by saying more.  Get the book, curl up, turn off the noise, and get lost for a while in Unhallowed Ground.  You will never regret it!
Note: I received a complimentary copy as a blog tour participant for
Kregel Publications.