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'Attractive characters, several layers of mystery and, as one might expect, meticulously researched historical detail.' Daily Mail
'A great read. Appealing characters and detailed historical setting.' Kiss
'Romping and intriguing' The Daily Telegraph
The year is 1453, and all signs point to it being the end of the world.
Accused of heresy and expelled from his monastery, handsome seventeen-year-old, Luca Vero, is recruited by a mysterious stranger to record the end of times across Europe and travel to the very frontier of good and evil.
Isolde, a seventeen-year-old Lady Abbess, has been trapped in a nunnery by her brother to prevent her claiming a rich inheritance. But when the nuns in Isolde's care show signs of maddness, she's accused of witchcraft and outisde the abby a pyre is being built to burn her for her wickedness. Luca is sent to investigate and all the evidence points to Isolde's criminal guilt, but is there something more sinister behind the maddness?
Forced to face the greatest fears of the dark ages - black magic, werewolves, madness - Luca and Isolde embark on a search for truth, their own destinies, and even love as they take the unknown ways to the real historical figure who defends the boundaries of Christendom and holds the secrets of the Order of Darkness.
Gregory (The Other Boleyn Girl) makes a hypnotic YA debut with the first book in her planned Order of Darkness series. Set in 15th-century Italy after the Ottoman Empire captured the city of Constantinople, this historical fantasy follows two distinctive 17-year-old protagonists. Luca Vero is an alleged faerie changeling, who is kicked out of his monastery and sent on an ominous mission by the Pope: to document incidents of the uncanny that are believed to be the work of Satan and signs of approaching end times. Isolde is denied her inheritance and trapped in the role of Lady Abbess at a nunnery. Luca's first assignment sends him, his servant, and his clerk to investigate the nunnery, where women have been plagued by visions, sleep disturbances, and stigmata wounds since Isolde's arrival; she and her servant Ishraq are accused of witchcraft. Gregory creates an immersive medieval world that is under the sway of both unfounded superstitions and very real supernatural forces. Though dialogue-heavy scenes are occasionally labored, powerful imagery, picaresque humor, and a polished literary style should captivate mature readers. Ages 14 up.