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review 2016-11-22 17:23
Karen Maitland - The Plague Charmer
The Plague Charmer - Karen Maitland

I used to read a lot of Historical Fiction but then suddenly I lost interest a couple of years ago. But when I read the name Karen Maitland I got tempted. I loved her books, especially “The Company of Liars” and “The Owl Killers”. I loved her dark and mystical stories. “The Plague Charmer” is equally dark and mysterious even if it is not as good and compelling as them.

 

The story is set in England during the second wave of the Great Pestilence. A woman is washed ashore at a small village in the Exmoor area. She tells them that the Plague is coming and she offers help. But her price is too high and the godly people don’t want her witchcraft. But soon the first people fall ill.

 

There are a lot of characters, several POV and the story gets more complex with every chapter. The author creates a very dark and baleful atmosphere. I wished the story would have been more gripping in the first half of the book. It took some time until the story picked up pace. I think there were to many characters, too many sub-plots. And there are some things which just stayed unexplained. This thing about the mysterious which-like woman from the sea is never really explained f.e. There are a lot of historical notes from the author at the end which are very interesting and revealing but I just missed some explanation or even mentioning of some of the things that happened in the book. This is the reason I can only give 3,5 stars. But for me Karen Maitland is still one of the best authors of historical fiction although “The Plague Charmer” does not reach up to “The Company of Liars”.

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review 2016-10-02 09:13
The Raven's Head - Karen Maitland

This was going to be a three star rating until the last page, then it became a four star because the ending wasn't happily-ever-after fuzzy-wuzzy but chilling and I like books like that. The story itself was quite gruesome and dark like other reviewers have said, this is probably the author's darkest story yet but there were no great surprises, hence the initial three star rating.

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review 2015-06-25 18:50
The Gallows Curse, by Karen Maitland
The Gallows Curse - Karen Maitland

I have to describe The Gallows Curse, by Karen Maitland, as both historical fiction and historical fantasy. The more I read of Maitland’s work, the more I wonder about a medieval world where magic was real. Everything else I’ve learned about the time period—the extreme violence, the power of the church, the lingering pagan practices, and so on—make it seem so alien from the modern world that magic is not the hardest thing to accept about medieval life. The Gallows Curse opens with a prologue in which a man comes to a witch seeking revenge for his daughter. The man, however, lied to the witch about why he wanted the poison. When the witch is convicted and sentenced to die (horribly), she curses the man’s family. The novel is the story of how that curse plays out for the next generation, even as King John is chasing French agents all over England and traitors are everywhere...

 

Read the rest of my review at A Bookish Type.

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review 2015-05-27 20:23
The Vanishing Witch by Karen Maitland
The Vanishing Witch - Karen Maitland
bookshelves: cover-love, published-2014, winter-20142015, under-500-ratings, medieval5c-16c, historical-fiction, plantagenet-1154-1485, paper-read
Recommended to Bettie☯ by: Pat
Read from November 27, 2012 to May 23, 2015

 

Description:
Description: The Vanishing Witch by Karen Maitland, author of the hugely popular Company of Liars will thrill fans of CJ Sansom and Kate Mosse with its chilling recreation of the Peasants' Revolt.

It offers an intelligent, beautifully researched glimpse of a more deadly, superstitious era...

'A compelling blend of historical grit and supernatural twists' Daily Mail on The Falcons of Fire and Ice

The reign of Richard II is troubled, the poor are about to become poorer still and landowners are lining their pockets. It's a case of every man for himself, whatever his status or wealth. But in a world where nothing can be taken at face value, who can you trust?

The dour wool merchant?
His impulsive son?
The stepdaughter with the hypnotic eyes?
Or the raven-haired widow clutching her necklace of bloodstones?

And when people start dying unnatural deaths and the peasants decide it's time to fight back, it's all too easy to spy witchcraft at every turn.


Cast of Characters
Proem
Prologue
Story
Epilogue
Historical Notes
Timeline
Glossary


Opening: While I lived I was never one of those who could see ghosts. I thought those who claimed they did were even moon-touched or liars. But when you are dead, my darlings, you find yourself amazed at what you didn't see when you were alive. I exist now in a strange half-light.

Richard II (6 January 1367 – February 1400), also known as Richard of Bordeaux, was King of England from 1377 until he was deposed on 30 September 1399.

Juicy beginning or what!?

5* Company of Liars
5* The Owl Killers
4* The Gallows Curse
3* The Falcons of Fire and Ice
CR The Vanishing Witch
WL The Raven's Head




Hattip Pat: Plucked straight from the website - Latest Myth & Magic: Witch-napping: A witch who lived in Berkeley, Gloucestershire had a ‘familiar’ (a bid) in the form of a jackdaw who could read the future. One day the jackdaw warned her that she would shortly endure a great tragedy and would die soon after. When news came that her son and his family had all been killed, the witch became extremely alarmed and sent for her daughter who was a nun and her second son who was monk. She told them that while her soul could not be saved they must save her body.

After her death the witch’s body was to be sewn up in a stag’s hide and placed in a stone coffin bound with three iron chains and left in the church for three nights, while her children kept vigil. After that she considered that they might safely bury her body.

The first night demons entered the church and broke the first chain. The second night they shattered the second chain and on the third night the devil himself appeared in a great thunderstorm. He broke the last chain and dragged her from the coffin and led her to a black horse which had iron hooks protruding from it all over its hide. The devil impaled her on the hooks on the horse’s back and all three of them vanished. The screams of the witch could be heard for miles as they galloped away through the night.
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review 2015-04-13 18:26
The Vanishing Witch - Review
The Vanishing Witch - Karen Maitland

Publication Date: Available Now from Headline

 

Source: Bookbridgr

 

The reign of Richard II is troubled, the poor are about to become poorer still and landowners are lining their pockets. It’s a case of every man for himself, whatever his status or wealth. But in a world where nothing can be taken at face value, who can you trust? The dour wool merchant? His impulsive son? The stepdaughter with the hypnotic eyes? Or the raven-haired widow clutching her necklace of bloodstones?

 

This one I requested via Bookbridgr because all the people I trust in the reading world were raving about it – it is my first novel from Karen Maitland and certainly not my last – whilst it would not normally be within my “comfort” zone, historical fiction not being my first choice, the witchcraft aspect pulled me in and I really really enjoyed it.

 

There is a beautiful mix of magic and mundane here as we follow Robert, who’s wife Edith is very ill. Enter into the mix an attractive widow, throw in some exceptional circumstances and a hint of nefarious doings and you have a tremendously wonderful story that keeps you turning the pages wondering what on earth is going on.

 

The historical element is terrific – authentic feeling and clever, the normal extremely difficult day to day lives mixing up with the supernatural elements really really well, I was just utterly enthralled throughout. I especially loved the little “Witch” facts at the beginning of each chapter, if I’m ever concerned about being cursed I think I shall return to this book for hints and tips. :)

 

Karen Maitland has spun a terrific yarn here – addictive writing and a haunting and wonderful sense of place and time, I am not sure why I have not read her before. My latest book buying spree will sort that out quick smart.

 

Highly Recommended.

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