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118 of 122 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable and Absorbing
The Hangman's Daughter is translated from the German original as part of the Amazon Crossings programme. The background to the book is interesting, as Potzsch explains in the postscript. The executioner and torturer is Jakob Kuisl, who in real life was an ancestor of the author, although the actual events portrayed in this book are fictional. The action takes place in...
Published on 14 Feb 2011 by Brett H

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41 of 42 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars good story - poor translation
It was quite a change reading a historic novel set against the background of mid-17th century southern Germany, a time that does not feature too heavily in German literature - far less so in English publications. There are plenty of novels dealing with witchcraft and witch hysteria, however, the plot and its characters are imaginative and I found it difficult to put the...
Published on 21 April 2012 by E. Neumann


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41 of 42 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars good story - poor translation, 21 April 2012
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E. Neumann (UK) - See all my reviews
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It was quite a change reading a historic novel set against the background of mid-17th century southern Germany, a time that does not feature too heavily in German literature - far less so in English publications. There are plenty of novels dealing with witchcraft and witch hysteria, however, the plot and its characters are imaginative and I found it difficult to put the book down until I had read the story's conclusion. However, my enjoyment was somewhat spoilt by the clumsy translation (Who on earth wrote that glowing review of the traslator on the back pages?!). Being bilingual, I can see the original German "filtering through" on almost every page and it really grates! Some of the literal translations make little sense in English. If the translator intended to convey a sense of time and place he would have done much better to employ the slightly archaic style one often finds in, say, English civil war novels.
As it stands, it's a good story (that would also make a good film), however, it will win no literary prizes!
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118 of 122 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable and Absorbing, 14 Feb 2011
By 
Brett H "pentangle" (Brighton) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Hangman's Daughter (A Hangman's Daughter Tale) (Paperback)
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The Hangman's Daughter is translated from the German original as part of the Amazon Crossings programme. The background to the book is interesting, as Potzsch explains in the postscript. The executioner and torturer is Jakob Kuisl, who in real life was an ancestor of the author, although the actual events portrayed in this book are fictional. The action takes place in a small Bavarian hamlet called Schongau, and Kuisl's profession was very much a family business, being passed from father to son so that there were dynasties of executioners of which the Kuisls were one of the most famous in Bavaria. They were shunned by the other inhabitants and generally intermarried.

Briefly the plot involves the discovery of a dying and tattooed orphan, who is pulled from the river. Suspicion falls on the local midwife, who has delivered Kuisl's own children. It will be his responsibility to torture her to extract a confession. Convinced that she is not to blame Kuisl and his daughter, helped by Simon who is daughter's boyfriend, set out to find the real culprit. Meanwhile more children disappear, which casts further suspicion on the midwife. The race is therefore on to solve these crimes, before hysteria about witchcraft results in the execution at the stake, not just of the midwife, but of other innocent local women.

Jakob Kuisl is the very interesting central character rather than the hangman's daughter, Magdalena as the title would have suggested. He is a reluctant executioner and torturer, who has to psyche himself up with drink before performing his duties. He behaves with sympathy and compassion towards those who he has to deal with, and does his best to spare them mental and physical suffering often using his skills as a herbalist. Although an executioner is an unlikely hero, he comes across as likeable and intelligent.

The book is well translated in the main and the description of the sights and smells of Shongau are so graphic that you really feel you are walking in the town. There are just a few points where the translation is rather grating with modern phrases which do not seem to fit in with the time setting. As an example, at one stage Magdalena refers to `having it off' which does not seem quite in keeping! On the other hand the translation generally flows well and does not use antiquated language.

The plot is interesting and complex and the story gradually develops in a way which keeps you turning the pages. The ending is satisfying without being a surprising revelation. I imagine that the majority will enjoy The Hangman's Daughter even if historical novels are not their normal reading, and I am looking forward to further books in this series being translated. To date The Hangmans Daughter and The Black Monk (2009), and The Hangmans Daughter and the King of the Beggars (2010) are subsequent offerings which hopefully will be added in due course. Two further additional titles are apparently planned.
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42 of 45 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Medieval mystery & intrigue, 16 Feb 2011
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Fraser the Frank Fish "paul m" (Benfleet) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Hangman's Daughter (A Hangman's Daughter Tale) (Paperback)
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The Hangman's Daughter is a medieval mystery set in 17th century Bavaria.

Schongau, a small German town recovering from the ravages of the 30 Years War finds its fragile prosperity and economy threatened by accusations of witchcraft after a young boy is dragged dying from the town's river with a mysterious Venus mark tattoo.

The Schongau's hangman, Jakob Kuisl, is tasked with clearing up the matter quickly, irrespective of evidence or guilt, by the council eager to avoid any unrest. As Jakob investigates, aided by Magdelena, the eponymous daughter and the town's underestimated young doctor.

The Hangman's Daughter is an entertaining and easy read. Potzsch includes enough description to allow the reader to visualise but doesn't overcomplicate the story or setting and as a result it it much more accessible and enjoyable than more serious books from the medieval mystery genre such as The Name of the Rose or The Instance of the Fingerpost.

The narrative rattles along quite well and the characters are well defined and easy to distinguish. An dramatis personae is included at the front for easy reference should you forget or become confused. The Uncorrected Proof edition I had excluded the Schongau map and the author/translator biogs, but as space is left on headed pages I would assume they wii be included in the published version. The translation form the original German works well and flows in English

Overall, I liked this book a lot. Good story, good characters, a bit of intrigue and a medieval setting. Not at all bad! 4 stars, recommended read.
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47 of 51 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mixed reactions, 3 Sep 2011
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I carried on reading this book because I was intrigued. However as far as translations go... I winced so many times that I may have a permanant tic in my eye. The translator seems familiar with British expressions ("having it off" is definitely a British expression) and American ones too... but has missed the finer points of what to say when. Telling someone that the potions created would give him a "hard on" in a HISTORICAL novel is crude and just wrong phrasing in so many ways. It just jars on the nerves and I do believe this is bad translating.

If Oliver Pötzsch has paid someone to do the translation for him he should demand his money back. If he's written this slang into an historical novel then he should go back to being a journalist.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A 17th Century "Who-dunnit?", 25 Sep 2011
By 
David Briggs (South Wales, UK) - See all my reviews
Jakob Kuisl is the Hangman of Schongau (Germany) in the mid seventeenth century. He is good at his job of executing and torturing miscreants of every type, but like many of his forebears in this "family business" he has a big heart of gold. He acts as a sort of doctor to those inhabitants of Schongau who mistrust the regular and rather ignorant doctor. His family of wife - Anna Maria - and daughter - Magdelena - are reviled by most of the local inhabitants.

Fear of witchcraft and evil-spirits are brought to prevalence when the body of a murdered boy is found in the local river. He has a strange sign on his shoulder made in cranberry juice. The local wise-woman/midwife is immediately suspected of foul play and the mob threaten to lynch her. Jakod saves her and places her in gaol, but is convinced she is innocent. The Elector's Secretary is summoned to judge the case but will take sometime to arrive. The local dignataries are determined to clear up the case before the Sectretary arrives with his expensive entourage. In a race against time Jakob and the son of the doctor set about finding the true murderer and bringing him to justice.

I enjoyed this book that I think might have been titled "The Hangman of Schongau" as the "Daughter" plays only a suppporting role in the story. The author is directly related to the Kuisl's but the story is a fiction set in an environment that his ancestor would have found familiar.

There a few curious terms used by the translator that most readers will be able correct in a few moments. The Kindle version is well formated with an active TOC. The map at the front is difficult to read even with zoom but is no great loss to the text of the story as the descriptions of the environment are very good.

Please enjoy this "Who-dunnit?"
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hangman's Daughter review, 21 Nov 2012
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This book is a middle ages who dunnit reflecting the attitudes to witchcraft and medicine of the time. It looks at the issues of how someone can be falsely accused of a crime. The story has a beginning middle and end which is unusual these days. I recommend the book who wants a good mystery read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Plot good, Translation poor, 20 Jun 2012
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I agree with many of the other reviewers. The plot was generally good and the characters sensitively created. BUT the lack of attention to the language that would have used at this time was appalling. The language does not have to be archaic but it does have to be appropriate. Readers of this genre do not expect to have twentieth century slang used so widely. I am unsure that I can bring myself to read the next installment, good as the plot is. For anyone who oes not know what I mean by appropriate historical language read a C J Sansom Matthew Shardlake novel.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Has its good bits, but generally meh, 11 April 2011
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Skeadugenga (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Hangman's Daughter (A Hangman's Daughter Tale) (Paperback)
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As part of the Amazon Crossings project, this book was selected for translation from German. Why is an interesting question as although its a fairly entertaining story, its by no means a classic.

Obviously any book in translation is hugely influenced by the translator and there were a few phrases that jarred a bit, but the Gothic tone which I'd imagine is from the original is maintained.

As historical fiction its certainly different from the usual run. The story is set in Bavaria in the 17th century, at the start a child is killed and someone in the town is accused of witchcraft. The author doesn't dodge some of the disgusting realities of the age, the torture and the political need to execute the innocent as scapegoats to purge mass hysteria. The mystery of who is killing the children is a good one, but the plot didn't really make a satisfying whole, there were a few clunks and bumps and although the narrative is modern and fast moving, it did slow down towards the end and I was getting impatient about 50 pages before the conclusion.

The torturer and executioner Kuisl is our complex and fairly interesting hero,whom we meet first as a child when an execution goes very wrong. Subsequently he becomes an ex soldier with a sideline in healing and herbalism, who nonetheless has followed his father as the town hangman and does as commanded by the town council in order to keep his job. His way of dealing with it is to get plastered the night before. The hangman is central to the book, probably because the author is descended from the Kuisl family being represented here, this is his imagining of his own ancestor(s). Simon the trainee doctor is less vivid, but serves the purpose of Watson to Kuisl's Holmes, but Kuisl's daughter Magdalena is too modern and the accused midwife came across as a more realistic person than the eponymous "heroine". I found a lot of the minor characters were indistinguishable.

So, worth reading if you like Gothic whodunnits and have a strongish stomach for torture, but not all of the characters are well realised and interesting plots take unlikely turns. Nothing in this book is wholly good nor bad, so that I don't regret having read it, but would be unlikely to recommend it.
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38 of 44 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as it looks!, 21 Mar 2011
By 
J. Dawson (Edinburgh, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Hangman's Daughter (A Hangman's Daughter Tale) (Paperback)
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I know they say you can't judge a book by its cover, but I loved the look of this one. Not just the cover design, but also the title, the blurb, the premise of a historical mystery set, somewhat obscurely, in a 17th Century German village, and the idea that the author was the descendant of a famous German executioner clan. It all seemed terribly promising, in a Tim Burton-esque way. Unfortunately the story never quite, for this reader, fulfilled its promise. This is a translation from the German so it's difficult to tell whether the problem lies with the author or the translator, but some of the language is horribly jarring. For example, the villagers believe the titular character is "having it off" with the devil - a phrase which seems utterly out of place in a historical novel. Perhaps these occasional lapses would be forgivable if the story was stronger but it seems to be a case of the whole being lesser than the sum of its parts. The characters were not grotesque enough for caricatures and yet not interesting enough to care about as real people, the plot was pretty standard and predictable, and I never felt that the author fully capitalised on the potential here. Full of possibilities but finishes by being an okay novel rather than a good one.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Very far fetched, 30 July 2013
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Looked interesting but turned out to be a very far-fetched yarn badly translated. Basic story line was a good idea but never properly developed.
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The Hangman's Daughter (A Hangman's Daughter Tale)
The Hangman's Daughter (A Hangman's Daughter Tale) by Oliver Pötzsch (Paperback - 7 Dec 2010)
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