It is the late fourteenth century, a dangerous time beset by war and plague. Nicholas Barber, a young and wayward cleric, stumbles across a group of travelling players and compounds his sins by joining them.
Yet the town where they perform reveals another drama: a young woman is to be hanged for the murder of a twelve-year-old boy. What better way to increase their takings than to make a new play, to enact the murder of Thomas Wells? But as the actors rehearse, they discover that the truth about the boy's death has yet to be revealed...
Brilliant … The ending is thrilling and unexpected, though nothing is beyond belief in this beautifully constructed, illuminating novel.
A brilliant book … The sights and sounds, the physical impact of bedraggled play-acting, are unforgettable. And the strange birth of modern drama, on a cart carrying dirty costumes and a corpse, is memorably exciting.
Wonderfully vivid … this bleakly glittering novel … adds to its already impressive array of attractions the pace, suspense and twisty unexpectedness of a gripping detective tale.
From the first, vital sentence, Unsworth’s medieval drama grips the reader’s attention … exquisite.