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The Cross and the Curse is the second book in the Bernicia Chronicles. Matthew Harffy has taken his readers on a voyage back in time to seventh century England, but instead of focusing on the famous historical characters of the period, we follow the life of Beobrand, a “normal” man, whose life and accomplishments would have never been recorded in the history books. I really enjoy this approach in historical fiction.
Matthew Harffy has painted a vivid picture of what life would have probably been like during this period of history. He has not shied away from the darker elements of how people were, are and unfortunately always will be. Bernicia is filled with many good people who want to help those weaker than them, but there are others who impose their will upon and take advantage of the weak. This aspect of the society is reflected in our hero Beobrand. He is a powerful young man who makes some bad decisions, always with the best of intentions. I hope that as the series continues Beobrand will gain some wisdom to go along with his strength (although this may take away from the drama that surrounds his life).
The Cross and the Curse is an intricately constructed story filled with everything that I could want in a book: a hero who is scared and doesn’t always make the best of decisions, a gripping plot that kept me immersed in the story, and fearless subject matter that highlights the dark reality of the past, present and our future.