The thirteenth-century is just begun and King John has fallen out with the Pope, leaving babies to lie unbaptized in their cradles and corpses in unconsecrated ground. Across a fear-ravaged England, the people are dying in sin.
And into the Norfolk village of Gastmere comes a new Lord of the Manor - the cruel and blood-thirsty Osborn, not long returned from crusading. Spying treachery at every turn, he is prepared on the slightest pretext to damn anyone to hell and the scaffold.
So when Elena, a servant girl, is falsely accused of murdering her child she is convinced her life will be forfeit. But there are others who will defy Osborn's brutal regime to save a girl who once took part in the secrets and strange rituals of the manor . . .
'A ripping tale set in the year of 1210. Full of colour and detail' Daily Telegraph
'Bawdy and brutal' Simon Mayo
'Maitland's richest yet: a breathless romp through an England rendered spiritually desolate. Bubbles over with the exploits of desperate priests, scheming herbalists, torturous conspirators, a dwarf-sized madam and a plot of treason against the King' Metro
'A gem of a story. Meticulously researched and told with blood-curdling relish, this is a tale that will keep you awake at night' News of the World