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.
It took me a while to get hooked into this book - it's told through several points of view and it took me about an hour of listening to really get into the characters. After that, I found it addictive listening.
It's a dark tale, but the medieval setting is very believable. The narrator does a very good job, I feel, of differentiating between the different characters and the plot rolls on at a satisfying pace. I have also listened to the Company of Liars by the same author, which I thoroughly enjoyed, and I feel this novel is just as good. I look forward to trying some other books by Karen Maitland.
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.
I enjoyed this greatly. It is the second Karen Maitland I have listened to. The language pulls off the trick of sounding archaic but not like listening to Chaucer. The narrator is excellent, the characters are engaging. Will the created dwarf is very sympathetic. The language seems to be spoken in a late Victorian style, so understandable but archaic enough to keep disbelief suspended. And you will need to keep disbelief suspended, something I struggle to do but the neat trick of starting chapters with riddles or quasi magic traditions really helped get into a medieval mindset. An unusual and intriguing story, well constructed, brilliantly imagined and very well told.
Sludge of a story washed up on some desolate beach, recovered and related by screeching nutter for hour after hour. After hour. I really tried but ended up waking up depressed !
I don't think that's any of your business and what does it have to do with the book I have failed to finish. Ok if you must know it's a BBC football podcast. Enlightening to anybody ?
Too many village idiots at full throttle
What does that have to do with the price of rotting fish ?
Stop asking stupid questions and let readers present their own take. It was terrible ok
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