The critically acclaimed Queen of the Dark Ages, author of Company of Liars, introduces a chilling novel set against the backdrop of the Peasants' Revolt.
Take one wealthy merchant. Add one charming widow. And one dying wife.
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.
©2014 Karen Maitland (P)2014 Headline Digital
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"Entertaining Medieval Tale of Good versus Evil"
If you’ve listened to earlier books by this author you’ll know how she weaves a strong story into a backdrop of mysticism and creates a powerful atmosphere of medieval life. Set in the 12th C this book has rulers and employers mercilessly exploiting the hard-working poor as they try to scrap a living burdened by taxes and low wages. Corruption is everywhere and superstition haunts all walks of life. Death and witchcraft abounds in the central story as rich cloth merchant, Robert, is captivated by a widow newly arrived in Lincoln and his troubles begin. Don’t expect subtle characterisation or nuanced morality: this is good old-fashioned good versus evil battling it out: simplistic but enjoyable nevertheless. I was intrigued by the references at the beginning of each chapter to superstitious beliefs of the period which seem preposterous to modern ears but held sway in medieval times.
There’s some pacey writing in this book, particularly the description of the rampage through London during the Peasants’ Revolt led by Wat Tyler
The narrator is outstandingly good.
"My first read of Maitland but not my last!"
The characterisation and the period
a clever woman had to be a witch in the middle ages!
Well worth a read, the characters were all engaging and the story rich and captivating.
""mixed feelings on this one""
What I liked best was the fact that it was totally different from anything I had listened to/read before -and definitely not predictable.
All of them Jonathan Keeble is an excellent narrator and I will definitely buy more read by him.Although I did find it rather annoying when he kept whispering a couple of the female parts so quietly I had to keep "rewinding" to try and catch what he was saying-it spoiled the story a bit.
I personally hate reading reviews where the reviewer just tell you what the story is-Iso I will not do that here.
I bought this book after reading a few good reviews.The first couple of chapters had me hooked....but then the story kept drifting off and going nowhere-and I started to wonder what I had bought.I did not really get back into the book until about half way through-when the story really started to pick up and have some substance to it.Part of my lack of being able to concentrate may have been more to Jonathan Keeble whispering too quietly,I could not hear him-this spoiled the book for me.it made it hard work rather than a relaxing listen.I will listen again,but next time I will download to my laptop and listen with external speakers turned up full.
Karen Maitland did capture the era extremely well-except when she forgot herself and used a modern cuss word occasionally...but the story did eventually grab me and hold on to me to the end and I am glad I got there.
Would recommend this one,but if you are slightly hard of hearing download to your computer not your Kindle.as the volume on Kindles only goes up so far and not far enough.
"A bit disappointed with this one"
I love Karen Maitland books and was so excited when this one was published as it seemed a long time coming. However, this book was disappointing and didn't have the "excitement" and surprise element of previous books. I did not sympathise with many of the characters and it appeared that the book was completed in a hurry. Was there a deadline?
I love Karen Maitland's books and have her full collection and would always give another of her novels another go.
None really entranced me
"I loved this book"
The Vanishing Witch is another masterpiece by this author. I listen to audio books when driving to work and Karen Maitland is lovely to listen to ,you find yourself cheering on your favourite character and wanting the villain to get their comeuppance,the superstitions of the time make you glad you live in a more enlightened time!
"Another great listen"
Again stunningly read by Jonathan Keele...great twists and turns..I really didn't want to stop listening.
"Decent story, not the best narration"
This is a decent story of witchcraft and superstition set around the time of the peasants' revolt. Whilst the setting was appropriate for the story, the sections dealing with the revolt itself seemed a little shoe-horned in. There were also a few characters which left me wondering "why are you actually part of the story?"
That said, the story, if a little predictable, had some interesting twists, and the use of multiple character perspectives for narration was particularly appealing - giving insights that simply would not have been possible using a single character as narrator.
For me though, the biggest drawback was the narrator himself. Most of it was excellent and anything involving male characters was well done and well differentiated. However, the two main female characters did not come across well. Rather than female voices, the narrator came up with characterisations that were more a stereotype of camp male voices which were just not suitable for the characters - particularly the female child.
Overall, a decent if not stunning story let down by the narrator.
Has it put me off the author? No, but I wont be rushing for another if it is the same reader.
"Maitland at her best"
I love her books but this one had as many twists and turns as a twisty turny thing. Keeps you guessing until the end and you'll still be surprised by the outcome.
"Happy to read again"
Gripping story and excellently read. The narrative illustrates the life and colour of the time (Richard II) and brings it all to life.
"a great yarn.."
I didn't think I was going to enjoy this story. It started slowly but became a fantastic listen. the characters are well defined and you become very involved in their lives. an enjoyable story and we'll worth listening
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