England 1321: Deep in the countryside lies an isolated village governed by a sinister regime of Owl Masters. But their dark status quo is disturbed by the arrival of a house of religious women. Why do their crops succeed when village crops fail, their cattle survive despite the plague? Accusations of witchcraft and heresy run rife, while the Owl Masters rain down hellfire and torment on the women, who must look to their faith to save them from the lengthening shadow of evil... a shadow with predatory, terrifying talons.
©2011 Karen Maitland (P)2011 Oakhill Publishing Ltd
"Maitland has conjured up a medieval world startling in its brutality and unrivaled in it's fury." (Booklist)
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"Entralling mystical medieval "
It took me about an hour of listening to really get into this imaginative and enthralling story and become familiar with the five characters through whom the story would be told. It's an extraordinary novel that brings medieval existence to life in all its day-to-day privations, subservience to the local lord, superstitions and fears of eternal damnation drummed into the populace by an unforgiving Church. It's a very powerful story of the struggle between good and evil centred around a village somewhere near Norwich where a group of women from Low Countries have setup a religious community that is distrusted by the Church and by the local community who are still in thrall to pagan beliefs exploited by a band of Owl Masters who terrorize them.
Much of the pleasure and power of this book is due to the exceptionally good narrator, David Thorpe, who brings a wealth of characters to life by giving them individual voices by which they are easily identified in this roller-coaster of a story.
"utterly enthralling, loved every minute"
I'd read Company of Liars, and didn't think another book could come close to that, but The Owl Killers exceeded all my expectations. It was utterly enthralling from start to finish and I loved every minute.
It did take me half an hour or so to get into it, but after that I became increasingly immersed in the character development and the story line, and David Thorpe's narration was fantastic.
As with Company of Liars, the descriptions are so good that you can almost feel & smell what it was like to live in those times! The plot is intriguing, the descriptions vivid and I found the book totally addictive - I couldn't stop listening and was disapointed when I got to the end.
"Don't be put off by mixed reviews"
I considered all the readers reviews but as they seemed to indicate listeners either thought it great or awful it was always a gamble. however as I had enjoyed company of liars I thought give it a go. Yes it does take a while to get into and yes some of the characters are initially confusing as they all have the same names Martha this and Martha that. But as it unfolded so did the characters, the story and the intrigue. The mix of Christianity, paganism and what is possible early feminism takes us on a story of how ordinary people made sense of the world in which they lived and who had the strongest influence.Every character apart from Healing Martha seemed to have weird aspects to their attitudes and behaviour and not always very likeable.
I found Maitlands enormous knowledge about unheard of saints amazing and the story would not have worked as without it.
After i finished I needed to google benguines as I had never heard of this before.
Stick with it and don't give up until at least an hour of listening.
Well done Karen Maitland. What a great story and something that is slightly unusual too. This is a murder, mystery, suspense book that is full of intrigue, deception and sculduggary. It is a brilliantly told tale of a "house of women" (probably nuns, to you and I) and the devient "Owl killers" - we know not who they are! As always with a review I don't want to give too much away about the story, but if you enjoy historical stories, with a murder-mystery slant on the tale, this one is for you and the ending is probably one of the best I have heard and definately not what you would expect. Once you start, you can't stop listening. This really is a great story and I can't wait to read/listen to others from Karen.
"It's ok but....."
I did not enjoy this as much as the tremendous "Company of Lairs" it just does not seem as well held together as Company. It is not a bad listen although the narrators voice for the "Marthas" gets on my nerves a little. I would certianly recommend this with more hesition then I would recommend "Company of Lairs"
Very interesting - weaving information into the story - fascinating insights into Britian during the period
the voices - excellent range of accents used and the east anglian dialect was very well portrayed
The court scene in the church had brilliant tension
No but felt deeply for some of the characters
My wife disliked it, I liked the way the period was portrayed, but the story was a bit too supernatural for my tastes. (plus I am intrigued where she found a rocky mountain with a gushing waterfall in Norfolk . . . . . )
Having said that, David Thorpe brought this complicated book to life. His reading made this book and we subsequently quite enjoyed it. I'm unlikely to read any more KM, but we will be listening to more David Thorpe. Check him out!!
"An Uncomfortable Listen"
Similar to other reviews I really enjoyed the Company of Liars and particularly appreciated the talents of David Thorpe and his excellent characterisation and narration. He also in my view did an excellent job with this book, however the subject matter was nowhere near as compelling or interesting and in places just dark, dull and repetitive. I had to admit to 'speed-listening' to the end, which I rarely do, as I just wanted the book to be over.
The book in its merits does make you consider the time and desperate situation of the country working fold their cottages vs Church and Manor and also the power of the Church at the time. As for Company of LIars Karen Maitland is very good at bringing across the squalour and torment of the filthy middle ages, makes you glad to live int he 21st century.
All in all an uncomfortable and uninspiring listen for me I am afraid.
This book has kept me gripped from the moment I started reading it. Amazing tours de force of historical writing, original & perceptive. Cannot wait for the next KM to come out in print (March for hard copy). Slight pause for thought when I first heard the accents of the 'Women' & Locals (as delivered by David Thorpe), but ended up giving him a Gold Star for clear and believable narration. Cannot recommend this highly enough. First Class!
"You know it's good when you regret finishing it!"
Brilliant characterisation and fantastic narration. Often when men read women characters they go a bit "we are ladies" and it drives me crazy but not with David Thorpe. His acting captures the character perfectly and you believe they are men, women, children or 'other'. I really enjoyed the Company of Liars - Karen Maitland is just a fabulously talented story teller but the Owl Killers is even better.
I'd never heard of Beguines so it was really fascinating to read (hear?) a story based around a liberal religious order of women - not nuns, but something much more interesting. Otherwise, I think the description of Andrew, the Anchorite Saint is quite harrowing.
He's the best audiobook narrator I've ever heard.
Slightly silly question as it gives away plot but it has too be Osmana's story. Or, after being extremely annoying all the way through the last scene describing Agatha.
Like all richly written books it does take a while to get into it so stick with it - you'll not want it to end.
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