1375 Medieval Mystery

The Riverwoman's Dragon (Owen Archer Mystery #13) by Candace Robb      


What can I say! Forever I’ve been fascinated by Magda Digby, the Riverwoman, her dedication, her wisdom, her insights. More than other characters she’s called to me. So fitting to have a story devoted to Magda, skilled healer, reliever of suffering, attuned to the impossible, and mentor to Owen Archer. Two of  my favourite medieval characters.
Magda’s daughter Asa has returned to York. Impatient , greedy for knowledge, Asa has blamed Magda for her own shortcomings with her healing abilities. She has brought with her Einor, a cousin. One whom Magda sees possibilities for if he can overcome his greed.
The mystic aspect of Magda is grounded in the forest and the river. She lives outside of York. Available to those who seek her, yet far enough away to be not too caught up in the action of those who believe her a witch. The ordinary folk watch over Magda. One must take a coracle to reach her. Magda’s house is an upturned boat in the middle of the River Ouse with a dragon carving over the door. A dragon that protects our pagan healer. A dragon she connects with. Indeed as she reflects on things, Robb gives us a gorgeous insight into Magda’s thoughts. “ Eyes closed, Magda was one with her dragon, diving into the rich brown water, welcoming the flow against her skin, her hair riding the currents, replenishing body, heart, and mind… Magda sought release, racing through the waters, spinning, leaping, diving, one with her dragon.” 
Owen Archer sometimes catches a glimpse of that tie.
 Turning back toward the house, Magda touched the dragon’s head, and for a moment it was as if the two became one, woman and dragon, completing each other, a being of fire and water, her scales aglow, hovering in the air, then gracefully diving into the river, but also Magda the woman Owen had always sensed, a warrior woman but with wise eyes that drew him in, clearing his mind of doubt.“
It’s a time of pestilence. Plague is marching North. A physician, a leech, Bernard has spoken out against the healers and midwives. He’s fixed his eyes on Magda for poisoning opinion against her. The cleric Dom Jerome appears to be supporting Bernard. Who will help the poorer of the community? Magda has been accused of sickening a merchant and causing his factor’s death. Suspicion combined with religious fervour is ugly. Owen is investigating. Somehow Asa is caught up in this focus on Magda.
It’s also a time for Owen to pay attention to his gifts. His ability to see what others can’t. Blind in one eye Captain Owen Archer has become more aware of nuances.
Archer and Brother Michaelo have their hands full trying to handle people’s fears about the plague, an unexplained death, the firing up of the populace by a suspicious leecher, and theft.
There’s movements within movements at work here. Greed, evil and death stalk the folk of York. Magda does what she can. As does Archer.
A superb blend of mystery, pestilence and mysticism.

Canongate Severn House ARC via NetGalley 
Please note: Quotes taken from an advanced reading copy maybe subject to change


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