- Paperback: 592 pages
- Publisher: Penguin (15 Mar. 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0141047445
- ISBN-13: 978-0141047447
- Product Dimensions: 13.4 x 3.6 x 19.9 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars See all reviews (88 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 143,939 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Gallows Curse Paperback – 15 Mar 2012
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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.
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Top Customer Reviews
The characters are 2 dimensional and you feel no warmth or empathy for them ..it feels like this book has all the recipe elements but unfortunately the cake comes out flat...
My key issues-
1. Very slow in the middle of the story, which is where it should be the most interesting.
2. The character of Elena, very unsympathetic in my opinion, feeble and weak.
3. Twist at the end no where near as good as anticipated at the start of the novel.
I give it two stars because-
1. It was good to start with.
2. The history of the time was well documented, and interesting to learn about how King John stopped marriages due to his fall out with the church.
Overall I give it -4/10
Set against the backdrop of Pope Innocent III's Interdict imposed on England in 1208, after King John refused to accept the pope's appointee, Stephen Langton, as Archbishop of Canterbury, The Gallows Curse is a dark and complex historical mystery.
The cast of characters is diverse, yet linked by many invisible ties. The author depicts the loneliness and terror of life as a runaway villain through the eyes of Elena, one of the main characters. The reader sympathises with her terrible predicament, and yearns to see her take revenge on her tormentors. The other main character, Raffaele, is fascinating: tortured and full of flaws, at the same time enchanting and repulsive, hero and anti-hero.
Sexual deviance, violent death, treason and cunning women with ancient grudges feature along the winding road of this story, as Elena and Raffaele, both together and alone, attempt to elude the treacherous snares thrown in their paths.
The way Karen Maitland seamlessly weaves the supernatural into the story, I could easily believe in the magic, the spells and potions, as did these medieval people. And the "mandrake" as narrator adds even more intrigue, firmly grounding the story in this age of myth and superstition.
13th-century England is depicted so vividly I could almost feel, taste and smell it, and I was mesmerised from the beginning. I would highly recommend The Gallows Curse to lovers of medieval fiction, especially to those with a taste for the darkly humorous and a few surprise twists in the tale.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book had me hooked from the very first chapter. Sent me back in to time long gone.
I would recommend it to any one with a vivid imagination thank you :)
Amazing story telling, I had a job to put the book down. A wonderful read.
I have read nearly all of Karen Maitlands books which I found most enjoyable, however I wish, as... Read more
This was purchased as used was a little more discoloured than I thought would be but otherwise very good and person was happy with bookPublished 17 months ago by Pen Name