Maitland's richest yet: a breathless romp through an England rendered spiritually desolate. Bubbles over with the exploits of desperate priests, scheming herbalists, torturous conspirators, a dwarf-sized madam and a plot of treason against the King (Metro)
Bawdy and brutal (Simon Mayo)
A gem of a story. Meticulously researched and told with blood-curdling relish, this is a tale that will keep you awake at night (News of the World)
A richly evocative page-turner which brings to life a lost and terrible period of British history, with a disturbing final twist worthy of a master of the spine-tingler, such as Henry James (Daily Express)
Karen Maitland neatly catches the spirit of primitive superstition (Daily Express)
1210 and a black force is sweeping England.
For a vengeful King John has seized control of the Church, leaving corpses to lie in unconsecrated ground, babies unbaptized in their cradles and the people terrified of dying in sin.
And 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. As the terrors that soon begin to plague Elena's sleep grow darker, 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.
Elena, haunted by this curse and threatened with death for a crime she didn't commit, flees the village ... only to find her nightmare has barely begun.
For treachery lurks in every shadow as King John's brutal reign makes enemies of brothers, murderers of virgins and sinners of us all.