It was sad and lovely, and creepy and happy and I was able to give it five stars on Goodreads which I almost never do.
It was sad that Crowfield Abbey had fallen into ruin (thanks
But it was lovely, because I love Brother Walter, and he makes new friends--a ghost girl who can't leave the Abbey until her father comes for her, Ned, the son of one of the workmen demolishing the abbey's ruins at the behest of the new, greedy, landlord of the village, and Curious, another Hob brought to life by the power of the mysterious Deerman, a fey being (never fully Explained) from the forest of great puissance who is freeing the art and beauty of the Abbey before it is all destroyed. And by the end of the story, even the stinky Boggart who terrified the Hob at first has become a friend, which just goes to show.
And it was creepy, because the Abbey is haunted by a horrible specter who kills--the Crawling Man, who is terrifying humans, fey, and ghosts alike....Very very scary!
And it was happy, because the Hob is very Brave, and does the right things even though he is so scared and sad, and there is a happy ending for everyone except the greedy landlord (who doesn't get his carved stonework from the Abbey and who doesn't get to demolish the cottages of all the villagers he finds offensive) and the Hob and Ned save the Abbey's treasure, its most precious books. And I like how Christianity is made part of the supernatural forces on the side of good (primarily through the residual power of the angel from the first book), as this feels right for a book set in a monastery.
And it is lovely because I do so like to read books about people who are motivated, like Brother Walter, by love for their friends, who aren't obvious heroes, but who have to try really hard to be brave and keep going because it is the right thing to do. I do not mind one single bit being taught this particular life lesson repeatedly, especially when it is in the context of a magical, ghost-filled, historical horror story in a ruined abbey....
In short, it is with no caveats that I recommend this series to fans of historical fantasy! I am pleased to be reminded that my own middle grade reader has not read them....I will remedy that. He will love Brother Walter too.
And I am very hopeful that there will be more about Brother Walter; Pat Walsh does call this one the first in a series on her website.... and it's The Hob Tales Vol. 1 on Amazon......