- 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:
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The Vanishing Witch Audio Download – Unabridged
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
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)
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!Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I'v read Company of Liars and The Owl Killers, but I think I liked this better. Very good descriptions of life around the time of the Peasant's Revolt - almost like being there. Read morePublished 3 days ago by Terry Day
Very strong beginning, had difficulties following the storyline and felt like giving up. The end was rushed and didn't leave me satisfied. Read morePublished 2 months ago by pookie
I was so intrigued by this story..one of those stories with many layers, told from several characters' viewpoints. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Franki
This was a splendid read and so well researched; at times I felt I could actually small the unpleasantness of Medieval England. Great stuff, I enjoyed every minute of it.Published 3 months ago by Mrs. E. A. Marks
Very dark and depressing , when I had finished it I didn't feel " wow what a great book"... I thought, "God how depressing "....Published 3 months ago by Jo
Couldn't get by the second chapter, when she introduced Robert as one of the YOUNGEST guild members as he was in his 50's , I lost all interest as she obviously did not research... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Bella