Title – The Cross and the Curse (Bernicia Chronicles Book 2)
Author – Matthew Harffy
Genre – Historical Fiction
Length – 397 Pages
Publication – January 2016
My Rating – 5/5 Stars
BRITAIN 634 A.D.
Before The Battle of Hastings.
Before Alfred fought the Danes.
Even before England.
Warlords battled across Britain to become the first King of the English.
When Beobrand’s valour brings about a stunning victory against the native Waelisc, the King of Northumbria rewards him with riches and land. Beobrand wishes for nothing more than to settle on his new estate with his bride. But he soon finds himself beset with enemies old and new. He even fears that the power of a curse has him in its grip, as he begins to lose all he holds dear.
With treachery and death surrounding him, Beobrand confronts his foes with cold iron and bitter fury. On his quest for revenge and redemption, he grudgingly accepts the mantle of lord, leading his men into the darkest of nights and the bloodiest of battles.
The Cross and the Curse is the second novel of the Bernicia Chronicles.
If you’ve read my review of The Serpent Sword you will know I’m a fan of Matthew already, I was blown away by his debut novel. If you want to remind yourself of the review click here
This is by far the best sequel I’ve read to date, the brutal theme from The Serpent Sword continues and we see our hero Beobrand faced with even more trouble and strife.
I felt for Beobrand, my heart was in my mouth a lot while reading this book. Harffy has no trouble at all kicking a man while he’s down and it made for an excellent read but at times it was heart wrenching.
Harffy does a brilliant job developing the characters we know from the first book while also introducing new characters to the reader. We see Beobrand’s relationship with Sunniva grow and we also see his friendship with Acennan tested at times. All these troubles just make the story feel real. Life isn’t easy and the path our hero is on is clearly has a lot of hurdles for him to jump through.
I thought Beobrand as a character developed well throughout the first book but Harffy manages to bring more depth to him in this novel with the underlying struggle he has with regards to his father and the furiousness he knows lies within himself. The past really does haunt him..and I’m not talking about his father.. I won’t say too much on this.. you need to read it 🙂
Throughout the book I could feel there was something different about it compared to the first book which I couldn’t put my finger on but looking back I feel it’s Beobrand.. he feels much more grown up in this book, the undertone is darker. In the first book I felt most of his troubles were external when in this book in feels internal, like he’s fighting himself. He’s become a very complex and enjoyable character for me.. or maybe I’m reading too much in to things ha ha
One character I was glad to see back was Coenred and in this book he too has his own problems to deal with but you can see he has more strength in him now, a bit of Beobrand seems to have rubbed off on him.
There are other characters I really enjoyed during this book namely, Wybert, Corman & Anhaga. To tell you why would ruin it.. please I implore you.. read it.. you won’t be disappointed.
Harffy did a really good job of making the surroundings come to life, the way he described places made it easy to imagine. The balance between detail and story were spot on for me and the tale that plays out knocked me for six and I was left furiously swiping my kindle screen for more.
In conclusion this book is well worth buying, it’s full of detail and character, love and sorrow, life and death. Harffy clearly knows what a reader wants and gives it to them and he’s paved the way for book 3 which I can’t wait to get my hands on