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The Vanishing Witch Audio Download – Unabridged

4.2 out of 5 stars 157 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio Download
  • Listening Length: 17 hours and 16 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Headline Digital
  • Audible.co.uk Release Date: 14 Aug. 2014
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00KFLSWR2
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank:

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By S Riaz HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 7 July 2014
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This novel takes us from September 1380 to September 1381 and takes place mainly around the city of Lincoln. The main plot revolves around respected wool merchant, Robert of Bassingham, married to Edith and with two sons, Jan and Adam. When Robert is approached by wealthy widow, Catlin, he is flattered and happy to help give her advice. Before long, Catlin has wormed her way into Robert’s affections and into his household, although Edith’s maid Beata is suspicious of her motives and Jan feels he is making a fool of himself with the younger woman.

A side story concerns river boatman Gunter, who lives with his beloved wife and children in a small village outside of the city. Work is hard to find and the family live in poverty, but their troubles are about to be increased with the new poll tax. This was a tax to be paid for every person in a household over the age of fifteen and, not trusting those paying to declare everyone in their family, Commissioners would visit and carry out intrusive and crude investigations into the age of children living there which caused outrage among the people already struggling to pay. As Gunter works for Robert and lives in a cottage owned by him, their stories interact throughout the novel.

I have read, and enjoyed, all of Karen Maitland’s novels and this is certainly one of her best. Anyone familiar with her books will know that there is often a magical element to her stories and this is the case in this one too. With tales of ghosts, sorcery and witchcraft, this is a tale of murder and magic. From the beginning, we doubt the motives of Caitlin and her children – the arrogant Edward and the sinister Leonia – and her designs on Robert and his family.
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Format: Paperback
I enjoy historical and paranormal novels so finding these genres in one story was always going to draw me in. The balance between the ordinary and the witchcraft was just right ensuring I was intrigued enough to keep turning those pages while becoming a part of the story myself.

Robert of Bassingham, newly elected master to the Guild of Merchants, looks out of the Guildhall and sees a woman wearing clothes made from the finest cloth and so his fate is sealed. Mistress Caitlin is not all she appears to be and weaves her way into Robert and his wife Edith's life. In Greetwell we follow Gunter as he punts his deliveries and tries to be a protector for his family. There's another narration that intrigued me (I didn't guess the link!) and an ambiguous figure who keeps turning up. Beta's narration (Robert's maid) was really interesting too.

I loved the history - the Flemish, poll tax, the uprisings. Everything felt very authentic and engaged my imagination. In my proof copy the author has added historical notes (and a glossary) which readers may find useful.

The witchery made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. The weather and settings add to the 'darkness' and there are quite a few scenes that had my pulse racing. I loved the weather-lore and anti-witchcraft spells at the start of the months/chapters. Some I had heard of but most were new to me.

The Vanishing Witch was almost a keeper for me. I had worked out one particular relationship and so those scenes didn't hold the same curiosity as they would have done. It's a gloriously dark read in a world where although a totally different place than today still has the same emotions. I can guarantee you will identify with the characters. One for your wish list.
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Format: Kindle Edition
This is a rollicking medieval read full of sex, death and superstition. Set against a loose background of the Peasants Revolt, this touches lightly on issues of political inequality and injustice but that’s not really where the interests of the book lie. Instead this is imbued with an almost fairy-tale atmosphere from the proem with its mythic tale of retribution and revenge, to the final revelations of the epilogue.

The characters are almost archetypes – the shrewish first wife, the charming but ruthless widow, the insinuating daughter – and one of the voices that tells the story is that of a ghost... though we don’t find out whose until the end.

So this isn’t historical fiction in the political vein of Sharon Penman, and nor is it in the modern bodice-ripper style of Philippa Gregory: instead this is almost a modern version of the medieval morality tale where the evil characters come to very nasty ends.

So not a book to read for historical realism, but a darkly energetic story that takes great pleasure in its own macabre playfulness.

(This review is from an ARC courtesy of the publisher)
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is a tale of betrayal, treachery and greed set in Medieval England during the reign of King Richard II. As is usual with a Karen Maitland novel, the story weaves its way around real historical events of the time. In this case the well documented Peasants' Revolt when the poor of England rose up against the counsellors surrounding the young King whom they blamed for the imposition of the unreasonable poll tax to pay for the costly wars with France.

Two of the main characters in the story become embroiled in this revolt, though in different ways and with very different consequences. However the Revolt entwined them and their connections foils a further plot in the novel and changes the fate of its' main protagonists forever.

The sack of John of Gaunt's palace, one of the major destructions of the Revolt, appears in the novel. The rivalry between the English and Florentine Merchants and particularly the wool merchants of Lincoln are historically known. Many of the buildings referred to in the novel,such as the old Guildhall where two of the main characters meet are well documented as having existed, although they are now no more.

There are other charming historical touches: each new section and each sub paragraph within them begin with spells, weather lore or anti witchcraft spells taken from recorded folklore ,medieval spell books or ecclesiastical writings.

Karen Maitland is a master at using real history to authenticate her stories and on that score this one does not disappoint.

The tale itself is told from several perspectives and sometimes I found this a little incongruous, especially as one was a ghost!
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