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The Gallows Curse by [Maitland, Karen]
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The Gallows Curse Kindle Edition

4.1 out of 5 stars 86 customer reviews

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Length: 592 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Product description


A ripping tale set in the year of 1210. Full of colour and detail (Daily Telegraph)

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)

About the Author

Karen Maitland travelled and worked in many parts of the United Kingdom before finally settling in the beautiful medieval city of Lincoln. She is the author of The White Room, Company of Liars and The Owl Killers. The latter two titles are available as Penguin paperbacks.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 3796 KB
  • Print Length: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (3 Mar. 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars 86 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #50,276 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I absolutely loved Maitland's previous two novels, and couldn't wait to get started on this one. I was expecting, I suppose, the same precarious dark ride through the early middle ages, with strong characters and a plot you could belong to. That doesn't happen here. I really really tried to like this book, particularly after some of the very positive reviews I read here (I had to keep coming back and reading them, to keep myself going). In the end, after page 270, I gave up. I just did not care enough about the characters or what was going to happen to them. Neither Elena or Raffe seemed particulary well-drawn, neither had much depth, and an awful lot of the plot development seemed quite random. It's not clear why Raffe wants to protect her, or at least why he seems to fall in love with her, why the brothers Osborn and Hugh seem so intent on hunting her (a villein) down, so much was simply unexplained. And at the end of the day, rather dull. I had no interest in what happened next - the only reason I read so far was in the hope that the cunning woman might do something. A vain hope. Not at all the ripping tale the newspaper quotes promised.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Once again a novel set during the Dark Ages. King John has banned priests from doing anything under penalty of death. So the dead go to their Maker unshriven, marriages are banned as are christenings. Anyone caught harbouring a Priest is sentenced to death.
Raffaele is the Steward to the Lady Anne of Gastmere and he has a terrible task which he asks a young servant girl called Elena to carry out. His friend Gerard has been killed in the Crusades and has died unshriven. Someone has to take his sins from him so Raffe a Castrati devices a plan to get Elena into the house as a 'Tiring Maid' to Lady Anne.He asks her if she is a virgin and she replies in the affirmative. She is then asked to eat some bread and salt and slices of mutton on a chest which holds the remains of Gerard. However, she is actually with child so she takes the sins of Gerard and Raffe into her. The consequences are dire...........she starts to have awful dreams about murdering her as yet unborn child. So she sends the baby when it is born to the local Wisewoman who gives her a Mandrake Root and tells her that one day she will have to do her a service. Elena takes the root never thinking for one moment where it will lead her. She is convicted of murder by the new owners of the Manor, Osborn of Roxham and his brother Hugh.

The story then follows her life as she is protected by Raffe and forced to work in a Brothel for an odious dwarf called Ma.

She is pursued relentlessly by Osborn and Hugh whilst Raffe tries to keep her safe. Gytha the Wisewoman watches her all the time and evntually asks for Elena to carry out the small service she had promised to do.

An absolutely brilliant book and I particulary liked the chapters written by the Mandrake.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It is 1210 and King John is on the throne - but this is no medieval bodice ripper, this is dark and dangerous historical fiction. Following on from the excellent "Company of Liars" and "The Owl Killers" is this latest outing by Karen Maitland. They are all stand alone books, but there are certain themes that run through them all. Superstition and magic abounds in a time when people believed truly in spells, relics and potions. People lived where they were born and most rarely travelled; so even when our heroine, Elena, visits the nearest town, it overwhelms her. Karen Maitland is a very descriptive writer, bringing the places, people and time to life. She also interweaves several storylines and characters. The book is not confusing, although you do have to concentrate and there is a list of characters to refer to at the beginning of the book until you have them all straight in your head!

We follow Elena, at first happy and in love, content with her lot, until she is plucked from the obscurity of manual labour to work in the manor house. Pope Innocent III has placed the kingdom of England under an interdict after King John refused to accept the pope's appointee Stephen Langton as Archbishop of Canterbury. The Church's sacraments have been withdrawn from the people - including the last rights. Tricked into unwittingly and unknowingly taking a dead mans sins, Elena begins to have bad dreams. The whole situation begins to spiral out of control, as Elena becomes no longer sure about whether her dreams are real and what she is capable of doing. As life at the manor begins to fall apart, so does Elena's life collapse with it.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Unlike Maitland's amazing previous books, The Owl Killers and A Company of Liars, The Gallows Curse is a little predictable. The author has a great talent in creating colourful characters who you love, or hate. I found it difficult to relate to any of the main people in this book, and the characters are not as well developed, it seemed a little lazy, and reminiscent of previous books, rather than unique and imaginative.

Having said that, this is a good story. Try not to compare it, like I have, with previous books by the author because you will be left unfulfilled. I think I was just expecting a bit more, but it is by no means a bad book.

On a positive note, Maitland again paints a convincing and believable picture of the era, you can see the scene very easily and it is full of activity and colour. You can really imagine yourself there, smelling the smells, sensing the atmosphere and environment.

Fingers crossed the next one is back on form.
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