Author's Notes on Dark Angels / The Shadow Hunt
Imagine your parents gave you away.
Imagine they take you to an enormous, cold, echoing building, where scary-looking wall-paintings gleam in the candlelight. They hand you over to a stern, tall man dressed in a black robe and hood, and they leave you there. You never see them again.
And now imagine you’re only five years old.
That’s what happened to Wolf, the hero of my new book. It wasn’t uncommon, in the Middle Ages, for parents to give one of their sons to the church, to be brought up as a future monk. It was seen as a good thing to do: dedicating a child to God in an age when people believed fervently in the reality of Heaven and Hell. But for some young boys it must have been an experience that would mark them for life, especially as treatment could be harsh, with beatings a regular punishment for faults such as chattering or forgetting to learn a lesson. No wonder, like Wolf, they sometimes ran away.
The medieval world is fascinating, so near and yet so far. It’s a fantasy world ready and waiting to explore. Wolf, like every other medieval person, believes that the Earth is in the centre of the universe, and that the Sun and Moon and planets all go around it. He believes Hell is a pit in the middle of the Earth, and that Heaven is upwards, beyond the stars. He believes in devils, ghosts, angels and elves.
What if Wolf was right? This story is based in a world in which all these things are true – a world in which there really ARE supernatural forces for good and evil. Devils are out to get you: angels may protect you: and as for the elves – well, they may just be the most dangerous ones of all.
In a world like that, where Heaven and Hell and Elfland are real places, you have to be careful what you choose to do…