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The Plague Charmer Paperback – 6 Apr 2017

4.1 out of 5 stars 54 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Headline Review (6 April 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 147223586X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1472235862
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 3.6 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,667 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

A brilliant writer, with a real sense of history (Susanna Gregory)

If you like dark, atmospheric, historical fantasy, then this is definitely one for you (Daily Mail)

A dark read... fear and hysteria are portrayed with claustrophobic skill (The Times)

A really good read... as much one for first time Maitlanders as it is for the fans (Bookbag)

Karen Maitland is the go-to writer for gruesome medieval murk (Writing Magazine)

Written in dark but engaging prose, it is historical fiction with an apocalyptic twist (Lady)

Book Description

Ring the bells and lock up your homes. Karen Maitland, author of the bestselling Company of Liars, is back. And so is the plague...

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is the first Karen maitland book I have read and it most definitely won't be the last. I can't remember when I enjoyed a book as much! It had everything that I absolutely love!
First and foremost for me is a good page turning story and this one is brilliant. I couldn't put it down.
Second most important for me is the quality of the writing and this is expertly crafted. To be honest good writing drives all the other components forward.
The historical detail was totally fascinating and so authentic. I felt like I really understood how these people thought. The setting of porlock at exmoor was equally fascinating in the way the people lived, the sense of community and their beliefs, values and superstitions.
The characters were well drawn, for the most part but that would be the only slight weakness in my opinion.
The novel was so atmospheric and dark. The writer created a very believable world of superstition, reality and the possibility of the supernatural.
I also loved the structure of the novel as it alternated between different characters' perspectives.
It was depressing as it was set during tg plague but also full of hope and it wasn't without a good deal of humour.
I cannot praise this book highly enough and I am so excited I am about to start on a Karen maitland journey.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The subject and characters were fascinating. A very memorable read that was poignant, shocking and haunting. Brilliant!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Good read
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As always a really good. I have read all of Karen Maitlands books and have enjoyed every single one. Excellent storyline and characters .
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Format: Hardcover
I’ve read and enjoyed all of Karen Maitland’s novels, but my favourites remain the early ones – The Company of Liars and the Owl Killers. I was pleased to see that she had returned to Medieval England for her latest book, The Plague Charmer, and I wasn’t disappointed.

Firmly grounded in historical fact, The Plague Charmer is set in 1361 in the village of Portlock Weir near Exmoor. The villagers earn their living from the sea and, as befits such an important influence in their lives, stories and superstitions abound regarding the power and vengeance the elements can bring. One day, following a ferocious storm, the body of a woman is rescued from the sea. At first the villagers think she’s dead but when she is revived she thanks them by confronting them with a terrible choice – she’ll protect the village from the oncoming pestilence if they sacrifice one of their own.

The shadow of the plague soon becomes a reality as many of the inhabitants of Portlock Weir succumb and Maitland doesn’t shy away from describing the horror of this most agonising and brutal of deaths. As usual with Maitland’s novels, there’s a large cast of colourful and eccentric characters, the most central of these is Will, a ‘fake dwarf’ who has been banished from his role as court jester to the local bigwig and now lives in a cave where he scavenges for a living. His arch nemesis is Matilda (aka ‘The Holy Hag’), a pious and vengeful woman who blames the return of the plague on the (in her view) wanton and ungodly ways of the villagers.
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
It’s May 1361. Will is a dwarf living in the isolated fishing village of Porlock Weir who used to work as a jester for Sir Nigel Loring, the absentee lord of nearby Porlock Manor until he was thrown out for stealing and an unspecified crime involving Sir Nigel’s daughter, Lady Christina who recently married Sir Randel. Now he survives by collecting fish from the weirs and stealing piglets from Matilda, an unpleasant but religiously devout woman who’s dedicated herself to looking after the local church and its priest, Father Cuthbert.

Sara is married to fisherman, Elis, and mother to two young boys, Luke and Hob. One night she spots a ship floundering off the cliffs and urges the fisherman to pull out a woman from the sea who against the odds is still alive. The woman’s name is Janiveer and she warns the village that the Great Pestilence is on the move again across the country. But she’s willing to save their village in exchange for the life of one of their own …

Karen Maitland’s latest historical novel is another well researched story set amid the Black Death that incorporates elements of superstition, legend and magical realism but it reminded me a lot of THE COMPANY OF LIARS and the wide cast of characters made it difficult to empathise with any one character’s plight so that ultimately I found it difficult to engage with it enough to care about the story. I found Will to be the most sympathetic character – his dwarfism deliberately manufactured to condemn him to a life of being seen as unhuman for the merriment of the rich and titled - and wanted more of his story with Christina (who is underdeveloped) to understand a little more of what brought them together.
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