The Gallows Curse by Karen Maitland
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Oh my goodness - Wow isn't nearly a good enough superlative for what this author does.
Having LOVED her first 2 books I was a touch nervous starting The Gallows curse in case it didn't live up to my very high expectations ...
But it exceeded them. I just cannot fault this lady's writing, she brings the dark ages to life in the most believeable ways, her use of modern language in conversation heavily peppered with atmospheric curses, makes it even more accessible and easy to read yet the meticulous research and vast amount of facts and folklore she manages to cram in, make you feel you've experienced her stories not just read them.
We follow the story of Elena, a Villein, plucked from village life and called to the manor to perform a simple task which has horrific repercussions in her life and those whose lives touch hers.
Tricked by Raffaele, the main male character, returned from the crusades, bearing guilt and a desire for revenge which taint his life.
In part the story is narrated by a mandrake and is steeped in witchcraft, myth, magic and superstition. To say much more might spoil the spell which will be cast over you when you journey back to the early 13th century and wallow around the marshes of Norfolk.
Fantastic, enjoyable, atmospheric writing. I really battled between picking the book up and cracking on with it as I was desperate to know what happened next and leaving it a while as I so dreaded it coming to an end. Well all good things must come to an end.
If you haven't read anything by Karen Maitland yet please do give her books a try, she is rapidly rising to the very top of my favourite authors list.
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