This is one of the exceptions I've made when it comes to buying hardbacks. Look at that cover! It's gorgeous. I had to have the book, not just because I'd heard it was good.
And it is good, very much so. It's set in the 14th century in a humble monastery. Fourteen-year-old Will is a servant at the monastery--his family died in a fire over a year ago and he had nowhere else to go--and at the beginning of the book, he discovers a hob caught in an animal trap. He rescues the hob and takes him to one of the monks to get his broken leg set. Meanwhile, a strange visitor and his even stranger servant arrive at the monastery, searching for something. And Will has overheard rumors that an angel died on the monastery grounds a hundred years before.
Pat Walsh describes the winter weather in the book so effectively that I kept feeling cold while I was reading, no matter how warm the room I was in. While parts of the plot (like Will finding the hob coincidentally just before the stranger arrives, Will happening to overhear pertinent information) are a little too coincidental, I didn't notice while I was reading. The plot is fascinating, Will is a likable character with a difficult past and uncertain future, and the setting is wonderful. I liked that the details of the monastery are only shown incidental to Will's own activities. It gave it a more realistic tone and didn't make me think I was reading a book for a history class.
The ending sets up the possibility of a sequel. I hope it's as good as this book, and that it has such a wonderful cover.