The Dragon of Handale by Cassandra Clark


Thank you to Penelope Wright for reviewing this historical novel for us. Over to Penny…

This is the 5th novel by Cassandra Clark but the first I have read. I thought, this is another medieval mystery, similar to others I have read, some by Priscilla Royal who has written many books about religious women investigating murder and mayhem in the 14th century medieval period. At first I thought here we go, same old, same old. However, I was pleasantly surprised, it isn’t same old at all.

I really enjoyed it and for me, if I haven’t guessed the plot and “who dunnit” half way through, having read a lot of murder mysteries (medieval to the present day), I think I am on to a winner and I was!

Hildegard, the heroine, has returned from a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela and her Prioress suggests a visit to Handale Priory, in the very North of England, to help her decide if she should return to her Order or not.
Hildegard agrees, only to find that when she gets there, the Nuns, their Abbess and other members of the community surrounding the Priory have secrets to hide and a body! Hildegard is told that the young man was killed by the Dragon! Hildegard doesn’t believe in dragons but can she unravel the mystery surrounding his death?

Is there really a dragon? I am not going to tell you, you will have to read the book to find out! Good hunting!


Hildegard, no longer a member of the Cistercian order of nuns, has returned to the priory after more than a year from her pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, Spain. Still unsure whether she will rejoin the Order, the Prioress suggests that a visit to Handale Priory might help provide some clarity. Used as a house of correction for sinning nuns, it lies in the north of the county in the middle of a vast wood and is run by the ambiguous Abbess Basilda and her close group of hard-faced acolytes.

While walking about the grounds, Hildegard discovers the corpse of a young man in the morgue. His body bears deep gashes from neck to groin. His wounds appear to be the ravages of claws, but larger than any animal Hildegard knows of. Is it possible that the young man was killed by a dragon, as Hildegard’s been told? Of course, Hildegard does not believe in dragons, and despite being warned against it, she goes for a walk in the woods. There she discovers a secret tower, locked and barred, with armed men on guard.

What is so valuable that it needs such protection? Has it anything to do with the mystery of the young man’s death? And why have assassins been pursuing the King’s courier across the savage moor land only to murder him at a lonely wayside tavern? Hildegard risks all dangers to seek out the truth.

Series: Abbess Hildegard of Meaux (Book 5)
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Minotaur Books; First Edition edition (March 17, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1250058864
ISBN-13: 978-1250058867
ASIN: B00D42C2IY (This is my affiliate link for and I may receive a small payment if you buy the book through this link).

Available at, Amazon UK and your usual bookstore.


Originally posted on May 4, 2015.

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