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The Owl Killers [Hardcover]

Karen Maitland
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)

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Book Description

26 Mar 2009

England, 1321. Deep in the heart of countryside lies an isolated village governed by a sinister regime of Owl Masters - theirs is a pagan world of terror and blackmail, where neighbour denounces neighbour and sin is punishable by murder.

This dark status quo is disturbed by the arrival of a house of religious women, who establish a community outside the village. Why do their crops succeed when village crops fail; their cattle survive despite the plague? But petty jealousy turns deadly when the women give refuge to a young martyr. For she dies a gruesome death after spitting the sacramental host into flames that can't burn it - what magic is this? Or is the martyr now a saint and the host a holy relic?

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.



Product details

  • Hardcover: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Michael Joseph (26 Mar 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0718153200
  • ISBN-13: 978-0718153205
  • Product Dimensions: 23.8 x 15.8 x 5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 506,420 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

'Irresistible' Sunday Telegraph 'A page-turner' Express 'Engrossing' Daily Mail 'Wonderfully gruesome' Metro 'Gallops along' New Statesman 'Atmospheric tale of treachery and magic' Marie Claire 'Infectious, chilling' Herald 'Captivating, unforgettable, truly compelling' InStyle 'Original, impressive' Bella 'Compelling' Mirror 'Atmospheric and original' Woman and Home

About the Author

Karen Maitland lives in Lincolnshire and is the author of Company of Liars. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
My Boyfriend bought me this after I had read Company of Liars and loved it - and this was just as good.
It's so difficult to find a book/novel that uses a multiple narrative voice so flawlessly and that deals with so many different issues, social magical and otherwise in such a way that it doesn't feel forced, but like you really are in the middle of an isolated village in the 1300's.
The women in the beguinage is an interesting aspect of history too, but it doesn't read like a textbook like many historical fiction novels do. It's also interesting to read a fiction novel about a time early on when "Paganism" really was at odds with Christianity in Britain, as Christianity tried to loosen the hold the "old beliefs" had on those who lived before Christianity arrived, or those further out from the towns who needed to rely on local wise women rather than having access to more "modern" services...
There are so many different lives woven into this story and yet every one is played out smoothly and interwoven in a very unobtrusive and enjoyable way. The other upside to the swapping between narratives is that the chapters are relatively short, meaning you can dip into it a few times a day if you're busy and still feel like you're getting somewhere!
Would definitely recommend this book, especially if you're a fan of historical fiction, or the supernatural!
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42 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A pleasant addiction 27 April 2009
Format:Hardcover
Having loved 'Company of Liars', I was determined to read this book, and, after ordering, can cofess was very excited about it arriving. I had to wait until evening, after work, to read it and so the apprehension just gathered ever greater. Initially, I was immediately intrigued by the events of the prologue, and then the first section. Then, I was a little wary of the fact that this was going to be told by lots of different characters in first person narrative rather than just the one. I thought this might make the story seem fractured and I'd lose interest as it switched between viewpoints.
This prooved to be a false belief.
As I continued to read, I became use to 'seeing' through each character's eyes, finding one no less interesting than another. Indeed, I began to enjoy the tale as much as I had enjoyed 'Company of Liars'.
Pagan and christian ways intermingle beautifully in some ways and clash spectacularly in others, all the way through. There's mystery, tragedy, suspense and a rather satisfying, though ambiguous, ending. And, of course, the notes at the end of the book aren't just worth reading, showing how much care is taken by the author in her research, but they are a joy to read. Truly, Karen Maitland knows how to write what she's interested in. And such enthusiasm shows through her pages, making her work a real joy to read.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Owl Killers 17 May 2009
Format:Hardcover
This is Karen Maitland's second novel which is set in a village near Norfolk called Ulewic, this village is being terrorised by a sinister group called the Owl Killers.

The Owl Killers reign by using pagan superstition and blackmail against the villagers who then denounce each other. Added to this is the arrival of a group of religious women who set up a religious house or (Beguinage) outside the community. This disturbs the status quo and when crops begin to fail and the religious community give refuge to a young martyr who dies a gruesome death, it's not hard to see where suspicion will fall.

What ensues is witchcraft and heresy, but always in the background is the presence of the malevolent, shadowy, predatory Owl Killers.

I loved the novel, the author puts across the sense of what it must have been like to live in such a community where the medieval mind was ruled by religion and superstition. All this makes for a very atmospheric novel.

The novel is narrated through five different voices who are all interesting and bring something to the story and plot. Maitland certainly knows how to write a novel and this one is just as good as the first. For the keen eyed there is even a cameo from a character of the first novel.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Thriller? Gothic Horror? Really? 18 Jun 2012
Format:Paperback
I read Karen Maitland's previous book, A Company of Liars, and I thought it was OK, so I decided to try her next offering, The Owl Killers, which again, was OK. It's not a great book by any stretch of the imagination, but it also wasn't the worst, hence 3 stars.
On the plus side, the style of writing makes this an easy book to pick up and put down as each passage is fairly short, and the author does an excellent job of describing the world of a medieval village in the middle of nowhere, East Anglia.
On the negative side, if, like me, you don't like some of the characters doing the narrating, this book is TOO easy to keep putting down. Every time certain characters took centre stage I just wanted to reach into the pages and slap them! I also didn't find this to be a thriller at all. The surprise twists weren't surprising in the least (who couldn't see the identity of the rapist from a mile off?!) and the big reveal at the end was such an anti-climax that I wondered if the reader was supposed to be the climax of the book. As to the idea that this was in the gothic horror genre, I missed that entirely!
All in all, the book is fine if you want something average that moves along but isn't going to stay with you past the last page. If you are looking for medieval thriller, I suggest the Matthew Shardlake books by CJ Sansom. They are a bit later (16th century) and more who-done-it, but they are much more fun!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Enjoyable read, enough plots to keep you guessing
Published 28 days ago by L. Jarvis
5.0 out of 5 stars This Author evidently knows a lot about Medieval England as this...
the 2nd book of hers that I have read which is set in the Dark Ages.

The story is set in the village of Ulewic where fear of the Devil and superstition is rife. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Pyewacket
5.0 out of 5 stars If you like 70's folksy Brit horror movies, read this and love it.....
This is the first Karen Maitland book I have read and I loved it.
As someone who loves 70's British horror movies, folklore and historical fiction, this ticked all the boxes... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars The Owl Killers
This is so well researched. It is not didactic. The characters have flaws that give them depth; there are surprises; there are so many 'oh' moments about the time, which give... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
3.0 out of 5 stars laborious
Took too long to get going and too much conversation. The idea of giving each character their own chapter stopped any real movement forward.
Published 3 months ago by Mr. T. E. Wilkins
3.0 out of 5 stars Ok if you like this sort of tale
I preferred her book Company of Liars to this. It is a bit of a tall story but quite enjoyable having said that!
Published 4 months ago by PPitstop
3.0 out of 5 stars An OK read
I didn't really get into this book as easily as I did with company of liars. I tried hard not to compare this book to its predecessor but couldn't help it. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Beki Marsland
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommend
Fantastic book - Karen never fails to deliver a fast moving addictive read. Clever storyline with interesting characters - a must for all light fantasy novel readers.
Published 7 months ago by Lis O'Donovan
5.0 out of 5 stars Real page turner
LOVE THIS IF YOU LIKE HISTORICAL NOVEL, WITCHES ETC IT'S A MUST!! Great story with terrific twists and turns that keep you guessing.
Published 8 months ago by wernethblue
5.0 out of 5 stars what you expect from Maitland
Excellently written in a style that bowls you along through the intricate plot. Thoroughly engaging which is why I bought a copy for a friend.
Published 8 months ago by C. LANGLEY
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