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Barb Szyszkiewicz reviews the second book in Antony Barone Kolenc's Harwood Mysteries series from Loyola Press.

Middle-grade mystery fans (about age 10 and up) will enjoy The Haunted Cathedral, Book 2 in the Harwood Mysteries series. Set in 12th-century England, this story contains fictional characters and events set in a historical place and time. Lincoln Castle and Lincoln Cathedral, both of which figure in the story, were constructed about a century before the story takes place -- and parts of these buildings still stand today. And you'll find no spoilers here, but a significant event in the story was actually recorded in history!

Haunted Cathedral book cover


An ill-fated journey, a long-lost uncle, and a mysterious cathedral mark the next chapter in the life of Xan, an orphan in search of his destiny. For a year, he has lived in the care of Benedictine monks at Harwood Abbey. Now he learns that he has an uncle, said to live in the far-off city of Lincoln.

Will Xan survive the trip alongside the prisoner Carlo and his cruel guards?

Will he find Uncle William?

And why is Xan drawn to the spirit that haunts Lincoln Cathedral — could a ghost reconnect Xan with his dead parents?

Author Antony Barone Kolenc has crafted a compelling mystery featuring Xan, a 12-year-old orphan who has been in the care of a monastery for about a year. When he is forced to travel to the city of Lincoln with Carlo, who was involved in Xan's parents' death, Xan faces multiple obstacles that challenge him to forgive -- and he learns firsthand the consequences for himself and others when he withholds forgiveness.


Author Antony Barone Kolenc has crafted a compelling mystery for middle-grade readers. #catholicmom

The Haunted Cathedral can be read as a standalone story; the author has included just the right amount of backstory to fill the reader in (or catch readers of the previous book up on the details) without seeming repetitive.

Bonus content includes a map of Xan's world, a short primer on what to expect when you read historical fiction, a glossary, and an author's historical note providing more detail on the setting (both time and place) of this novel.

Like the first novel in the series, Shadow in the Dark, this book would make a great movie!

Copyright 2021 Barb Szyszkiewicz
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