The year is 1210 and a black force is sweeping England. A vengeful King John has seized control of the Church, leaving corpses to lie in consecrated ground, babies unbaptized, and the people terrified of dying in sin. In the village of Gastmere, the consequences grow darker still when Elena, a servant girl, is dragged into a conspiracy to absolve the sins of the lord of the manor. In desperation she visits the cunning woman, who has been waiting for just such an opportunity to fulfil an ancient curse conjured at the gallows.
©2011 Karen Maitland (P)2011 Oakhill Publishing Limited
"Atmospheric and original." (Woman and Home)
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"The trouble with Mandrake"
I am not normally a fan of full-on witchcraft and fantasy stories but the good reviews intrigued me so I decided to give this a go. To my relief I found that this is a credible story and is primarily about the harsh lives led by medieval peasants and they way they were maltreated by their overlords. This is set in the time when King John seized control of the church and as a result people could not get proper burials and be absolved of their sins. An innocent young woman, Elena, is duped into eating the sins of a dead crusader by his friend Rafael. This allows the crusader to go to heaven but leaves Elena with the burden of the terrible acts he perpetrated while at war. Despite this evil deed, Rafael is a tragic anti-hero, whose life is marred by the fact he has been made a gelding and in middle age speaks with the voice of a young child. He is treacherous but is not completely dishonourable and his struggle with his feelings for Elena is very poignant. What follows is a satisfying tale of revenge, murder, betrayal and love. Karen Maitland weaves a vivid story and the sections describing folklore (some of which is still practiced to this day) suggest she has done a great deal background research. My only criticism of the story is that I did think some of the sections were a bit ponderous and the plot could have been tightened up a bit more, but it is still a thumping good yarn.
I enjoyed David Thorpe's reading but struggled a bit with Rafael’s voice. I expected him to speak with the voice of a pre-pubescent boy but it sounded a bit too shrill to my ear. It was however distinct, and there was no danger of me confusing him with any of the other characters.
"Bloody, Brilliant and Bloody Brilliant!"
The third Karen Maitland book I have listened to and the best so far. An absolute belter, if you enjoyed the Owl Killers and the Company of Liars you will love this. Extremely well narrated this audio book is the audio equivalent of an “UNPUTDOWNABLE” book. I seriously can’t wait for her next book.
"Dark times but en lighting reading"
Another Karen Maitland , lots of wonderful ideas and conspiracies. I love the ideas and information how saints and cults are given and underpin the story. I had to google to find out where the fact and fiction intertwine. Makes you cry and wonder what else. Very gory but with wonderful twists and turns.
The reading a bit like the last needs a review of the narration but still worth the journey.
"A very good listen"
The story is very interesting and its very well read. If you enjoyed her other books you will enjoy this. One of the main characters has been castrated so speaks in a very high voice. This is a bit odd to begin with but you soon get used to it. The Mandrake root is important to the story and if it's a good story it doesn't matter who or what is telling it.
I really enjoyed this book, I've loved all of Maitland's book. Regarding Rafael's voice. It was odd at first but the narrator did a fine job with that and all of the characters. I think reading the printed copy wouldn't have the same impact as hearing Rafael and trying to imagine why people were sniggering at him. Some wonderful characters in the plot, I couldn't wait to see what happened to them all. As with the other books I can't wait to download the latest one to listen to.
My first Karen Maitland book and wow—amazing, compelling and so imaginative, I just gobbled it up and I can't wait to get stuck into the next one. Having said that, the narration is rather annoying in places but the character is a castrati and described as having a high voice so I can't see how he could have portrayed it in any other way. Great stuff.
"Yet another fantastic book from Karen Maitland"
Absolutely fantastic book
All of it
Character accents and who they are
As good as company of liars writer and narrator
After listening the Company of Liars three times, I knew this book would give all sorts of twists, turns and intrigue to keep me glued to my audio devices. I was not disappointed.
The only thing that grated was the voice of Rafael which , to me, was not believable for a man with a girls voice. A minor quibble which did not put me off enough to not want to leave the book un-listened to. I have already downloaded her other books and will I look forward too and listen too with relish.
A superb book from a brilliant author.
"just couldnt stop listening"
This is the 3rd book by Karen Maitland that I have read, and it hasn't failed to deliver. With David Thorpe narating; the book comes alive with characters. I am only sorry that I have come to the end, this book has given me so much pleasure. Thank you Karen! I look forward to your next story with bated breath.
Karen Maitland is up there at the top with Ken Follett. if you know of other writers with similar story telling skills please let me know.
"the gallows curse,"
I loved this book from the start, the voices were Fantastic !!! I forgot it was a "Mandrake Root" reading it sounded so good.
the character's you will really enjoy, a good plot and terrific ending... try it
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