The Arrows of Mercy by Jill MacLean

Anno Domini 1348 – Returning home to his small village in southern England from the bloody battlefields of France, Edmund yearns to escape the horrors of war. The disfiguring scars he wears on his face are nothing compared to the scars seared on his mind and soul, badges of atrocities he cannot confess. If he hopes for a welcome from his cold and distant mother or his cruel elder brother, he is sorely mistaken. The woman he has loved for years wants nothing of a marriage that would bind her ever tighter to a life of hard work and child-rearing. 

“Engaging, thought-provoking and thoroughly satisfying, it is one of those books you can’t put down and yet wants to savour for its beautiful prose, compelling story and rich characters.”

There are, however, three newcomers who challenge how he sees himself: the kindly young priest who wants nothing more than to save Edmund’s soul and ignite his mind; the elusive wise woman who is far more than she appears; and his brother’s near-feral and abused servant-girl who Edmund is compelled to save even if she wants nothing to do with him. Just as Edmund thinks he can find his place in this world, and the love he has been denied so long, word arrives from outside the village: plague has come to England. I love a good historical novel and this one absolutely swept me off my feet. Engaging, thought-provoking and thoroughly satisfying, it is one of those books you can’t put down and yet wants to savour for its beautiful prose, compelling story and rich characters. MacLean has a way of writing that feels real and immediate, transporting her readers into a world 700 years in the past. Her descriptions are masterful, crafting a believable setting, filling it with life and never dragging the narrative down. Her characters lift off the page, fully fleshed, vibrant and alive. What MacLean does so brilliantly is paint their rich, tragic emotional lives, their moral struggles, the rollercoaster of love and hate, of jealousy and fraternity, of good and evil. The story is firmly planted in the past, but the emotions are timeless, fresh, and relevant. I only hope Edmund’s story doesn’t end here. I want more!

Jill MacLean‘s five novels for middle graders and young adults won several awards and received numerous nominations, four of them international. Wanting a new challenge – and an adult audience – she delved into her abiding fascination with medieval England. She was born in Berkshire, the setting for The Arrows of Mercy, and revisiting it, in reality in the 21st century and in imagination in the 14th, has given her much pleasure. An avid gardener, reader and canoeist, she lives in Nova Scotia near her family.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Tellwell Talent (Feb. 28 2023)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 332 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0228887321
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0228887324

Heather McBriarty is an author, lecturer and Medical Radiation Technologist based in Saint John, NB. Her love of reading and books began early in life, as did her love of writing, but it was the discovery of old family correspondence that led to her first non-fiction book, Somewhere in Flanders: Letters from the Front,and a passion for the First World War. She has delivered lectures to the Royal Nova Scotia Historical Society, NB Genealogy Society, and Western Front Association (Central Ontario Branch), among others, on the war. Heather’s first novel of the “Great War”, Amid the Splintered Trees, was launched in November 2021.