Germany, 1659: When a dying boy is pulled from the river with a mark crudely tattooed on his shoulder, hangman Jakob Kuisl is called upon to investigate whether witchcraft is at play in his small Bavarian town. Whispers and dark memories of witch trials and the women burned at the stake just 70 years earlier still haunt the streets of Schongau. When more children disappear and an orphan boy is found dead - marked by the same tattoo - the mounting hysteria threatens to erupt into chaos.
Before the unrest forces him to torture and execute the very woman who aided in the birth of his children, Jakob must unravel the truth. With the help of his clever daughter, Magdelena, and Simon, the university-educated son of the town’s physician, Jakob discovers that a devil is indeed loose in Schongau. But it may be too late to prevent bloodshed.
©2011 Oliver Pötzsch, Lee Chadeayne (translation) (P)2011 Brilliance Audio, Inc.
The narrator did a good job. I liked being able to relate to some specific areas of Bavaria, as I live in Germany at the moment. I liked the historical bits the author included. I didn't enjoy the torture/violence and thought the premise of the story and the main characters attitudes required a lot of suspension of disbelief. I would have enjoyed the language more if the translator had left a few more words in German to remind me as I read of the location where it was taking place.
I'm a web developer based out of Sacramento, I listen to books while I work, and love audible.
This was a fairly entertaining mystery book that focuses on some rough stuff at times, like the torture of prisoners to get confessions, even though the Hangman knows the person to be innocent.
As a history buff, I was attracted to the setting and characters of this book. To that end the author did not disappoint. He states in the afterword that he is actually a genealogist by trade, who based this book on his own family's history, which he has investigated thoroughly. I was drawn in to the world of this town executioner, a job I've never read of before. And I liked the depiction of the townsfolk as superstitious and judgmental. It's obvious the author went to great pains to make this book historically accurate and I enjoyed those aspects of it.
Unfortunately though, his abilities as a fiction writer leave much to be desired. As a fun drinking game, try taking a shot every time you hear the word "suddenly". You won't be upright for long. His writing is mechanical in feel, like writing by numbers. His characters have little depth, with the titular hangman's daughter being the only character of much interest. Also he fell for the old "bad guy monologue" at the end, not once, not twice, but three times! Still, I made it to the end and that counts for something. I'm notorious for abandoning books that don't hold my interest. This was to my detriment as the ending is where the wheels really fall off this story.
The narration did this mediocre book no favors. I'm a fan of the narrator, having previously heard him narrate The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. He has a wonderfully soothing voice, like fine grit sandpaper, that I think works perfectly for non-fiction. But he lacks any ability whatsoever to add drama to a narration or to lend unique voices to each character. They're all the same voice, just maybe a little gruffer or softer than the other.
In summation, I gave the book 3 stars because I made it, staggering, to the end. And because I enjoyed the historical elements. If you have no such interest in history then you should probably pass on this one.
Intriguing, Dark, Perplexing
Yes, planning to try Book two of the series. I like the book overall but feel this story is a tad long to get to the end and is easy to loose focus on the book as you are doing other things. I wish it had more hook or draw one might say.
Nothing! It was refreshing to here the accent with using the languages in the book.
None at all I'm sad to say, BUT It is quite gory and for some that can give an extreme reaction. For me it bothers me none as my genre of choice is murder, gore, mentally ill. I am also working towards volunteer coroner here at home so not much in that environment disturbs me.
My main issue in this story is the last names of the characters all sounded similar making it difficult to follow along. there were also alot of characters that played key roles but were not elaborated on so when they were brought up a second time you had to try and remember who they were.
A riveting mystery.
The search for the girls in the tunnels. The hangman fighting with the devil in such close quarters. Gripping.
His pronunciation and dialect removed me from sunny Florida and brought Bavaria to life.
No, I didn't have an extreme reaction, but it did fully engross me.
Definitely listening to the next book.
A shot in the dark that I truly enjoyed. I enjoy books that can give you a real taste of what a time must have been like and this delivers. A 17th century back drop full of greed, suspicion and mystery. A tale of poverty, hardship and witchcraft. Only a few of the characters live by their wits and not their fears and up until the end you aren't quite sure which group of citizens of this small European town will win.
This was an excellent book. It grabbed you from the first and completely carried you along to the end. I listened much longer than planned on several occasions just to find out what happened next. The performance was also outstanding. This book reminded me very much of the Robert McCammon series "speaks the nightbird".
the constant excitement of the story line and the presentation
the believability of the characters
I was just anxious for the story and the characters to continue
a fun read
Characters, characters, characters. Jakob Kuisel has arrived. I'm just waiting for some CEO to buy the movie rights and bring this book to the big screen. Jakob Kuisel is the next William Wallace, without all the Scottish independance stuff.
No giving away hints or scenes or anything else. But the book, you won't be disappointed. Just try to stop yourself from buying all the rest. Amazon should start selling a whole series discount for those of us junkies who are living paycheck to paycheck trying to support our audiobook addiction,
I am partway into the book and am reading/listening on a Kindle using immersive reading, so I see the text at the same time that I hear Gardiner's narrative.
Gardiner is as always an accomplished and fluid narrator. His reading stays close to the Kindle book but occasionally strays as if he is reading from a different translation. Most of hese differences are insubstantial but sometimes they actually change the meaning - for example Gardiner says "new-fangled potion" in place ofthe Kindle book's "ominous potion." If you are a purist, besxt keep this in mind.
I may edit this review after I finish the book, if Audbile allows that. I do find it hard to put down and all the main characgers are engaging. This first in the series is a good read and based on reviews books later in the series are an even better read.
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