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The Owl Killers Kindle Edition
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Karen Maitland's books are brilliantly written. This is full of wonderful description which really brings to life the atmosphere of the time. The corruption of the priest, the fear caused by the Owl Killers and the suspicion of the seemingly benign Beguinage ladies. The majority of the village are uneducated people who just want to live their lives but are being pulled from various sides demanding that they believe certain things and also demanding money & goods.The historical facts are also well written into the story so I felt that I learned a lot about the history of the time without feeling I was lectured to. I felt immersed into the lives of the people.
I must point out that this is not a cheery book. Though to be fair I don't think it was a particularly cheery period of history for the average person. There is never a moment when I felt that everything was going to be all right for the characters. It was more the fact that they were safe for the time being & that life would go on. Not everyone would find this to their taste.
The author uses five of the characters to narrate this story. This is a narrative type which can work brilliantly if the characters personalities show through the writing. In some books, however, this can be a very poor writing style as the characters are not well enough defined. Fortunately, in this book the characters are very three dimensional with the own personalities and narration styles.
I really enjoyed reading this book despite it being quite grim for most of the time with some breaks into real despair. I really enjoyed being transported into the historical period through excellent writing. I have already read the author's "A Company of Liars" which I can heartily recommend. I shall be purposely looking for other books by Karen Maitland.
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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Most recent customer reviews
After a couple of pages I was hooked
Very different, but great