Waterslain Angels, by Kevin Crossley-Holland (Orion Books, 2009, 192 pp)
When Oliver Cromwell's men rampaged through England, smashing to pieces the works of art that decorated the countries churches, the angels of the small Norfolk village of Waterslain were lost.
Waterslain in the 1950s is still a small village, but the fate of the angels has faded from local memory. Then a carved wing is found during a clear-out of the vestry attic. Two children, Annie (10) and Sandy (11), become convinced the angels weren't destroyed, and set out to find them.
The almost illegible words they discover carved on the church's wall give them a clue--
Between her Will
And his Wall
We Lie Waiting
But someone else wants the angels. The shady tough guy of the village is hunting them down too, to sell them. Annie and Sandy must find the waterslain angels and bring them back to the empty places waiting for them in the church before they are lost to the village forever.
As Annie searches, her dreams are full of the rough voices of Cromwell's men, and visions of the angels, urging her to find them where they lie waiting. For Sandy, whose father, an American in the air force, was recently killed in a flying accident, and whose mother has just come home to Waterslain, the quest for the angels brings comfort. And the angels bring the two lonely children together in the strong bonds of a friendship forged by the mystery they are unravelling (and a satisfyingly believable mystery it is, too).
Waterslain Angels is an utterly lovely mix of the detail of everyday life and the power and beauty of dreams. It is a fascinating mystery, a historical treasure hunt, a story of friendship, a lovely evocation of place, and a little bit a fantasy (Annie's dreams) It is beautifully written-- I would be hard pressed to find words to edit out. All in all, an excellently satisfying book that is most definite keeper for future re-reading.
Here are other reviews, at the Falcata Times, Achockablog, and Read Plus.
Waterslain Angels hasn't been published in the US yet, but copies can be found for under $10.