The Plague Charmer, by Karen Maitland, author of the much-loved Company of Liars - her first novel of the plague - will chill and delight fans of Kate Mosse and C. J. Sansom in equal measure.
Riddle me this: I have a price, but it cannot be paid in gold or silver.
Porlock Weir, Exmoor, 1361. Thirteen years after the Great Pestilence, plague strikes England for the second time. Sara, a packhorse man's wife, remembers the horror all too well and fears for the safety of her children. Only a dark-haired stranger offers help but at a price that no one will pay.
Fear gives way to hysteria in the village, and when the sickness spreads to her family, Sara finds herself locked away by neighbours she has trusted for years. And as her husband - and then others - begin to die, the cost no longer seems so unthinkable.
The price that I ask from one willing to pay...a human life.
©2016 Karen Maitland (P)2016 Headline Digital
"A compelling blend of historical grit and supernatural twists." (Daily Mail)
A man with a child in his ears
This is a dark, dark book. There is precious little joy for Maitland's victims of the plague. The highlight for me was a narration masterclass from Jonathan Keeble and the last few hours of the book which turned out to be well worth the wait. Prior to that I found it a bit of a long haul and to be fair I guess common fisherfolk from the time were not exactly masters of wit. It did feel pretty slow going at times to me though and one of the relationships key to the plot was fairly unlikely.
Overall I'm pleased to have read it but the sheer glumness of the scenario does weigh heavily. Maitland has a good turn of phrase at times and I very much bought into the superstitious paranoia that dominated her medieval characters. A fascinating parallel was that both rich and poor alike shared their ignorance albeit expressed differently.
So, this is a dark tale set in dark times but with Keeble's impressive narration it's definitely worth a read.
Pt, fitness instructor, pole fitness instructor, book and audiobook addict.
The variety of characters and how your interest in all of them was maintained.
Will or Sarah....you empathised with them.
It has to be said that Jonathan Keeble's performance ( and that is what it was ) was totally superb....it was great reading and a great listen.
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