The year is 1210 and a black force is sweeping England. A vengeful King John has seized control of the Church, leaving corpses to lie in consecrated ground, babies unbaptized, and the people terrified of dying in sin. In the village of Gastmere, the consequences grow darker still when Elena, a servant girl, is dragged into a conspiracy to absolve the sins of the lord of the manor. In desperation she visits the cunning woman, who has been waiting for just such an opportunity to fulfil an ancient curse conjured at the gallows.
©2011 Karen Maitland (P)2011 Oakhill Publishing Limited
"Atmospheric and original." (Woman and Home)
Another Karen Maitland , lots of wonderful ideas and conspiracies. I love the ideas and information how saints and cults are given and underpin the story. I had to google to find out where the fact and fiction intertwine. Makes you cry and wonder what else. Very gory but with wonderful twists and turns.
The reading a bit like the last needs a review of the narration but still worth the journey.
The story is very interesting and its very well read. If you enjoyed her other books you will enjoy this. One of the main characters has been castrated so speaks in a very high voice. This is a bit odd to begin with but you soon get used to it. The Mandrake root is important to the story and if it's a good story it doesn't matter who or what is telling it.
The third Karen Maitland book I have listened to and the best so far. An absolute belter, if you enjoyed the Owl Killers and the Company of Liars you will love this. Extremely well narrated this audio book is the audio equivalent of an “UNPUTDOWNABLE” book. I seriously can’t wait for her next book.
After listening the Company of Liars three times, I knew this book would give all sorts of twists, turns and intrigue to keep me glued to my audio devices. I was not disappointed.
The only thing that grated was the voice of Rafael which , to me, was not believable for a man with a girls voice. A minor quibble which did not put me off enough to not want to leave the book un-listened to. I have already downloaded her other books and will I look forward too and listen too with relish.
A superb book from a brilliant author.
This is the 3rd book by Karen Maitland that I have read, and it hasn't failed to deliver. With David Thorpe narating; the book comes alive with characters. I am only sorry that I have come to the end, this book has given me so much pleasure. Thank you Karen! I look forward to your next story with bated breath.
Karen Maitland is up there at the top with Ken Follett. if you know of other writers with similar story telling skills please let me know.
I loved this book from the start, the voices were Fantastic !!! I forgot it was a "Mandrake Root" reading it sounded so good.
the character's you will really enjoy, a good plot and terrific ending... try it
My first Karen Maitland book and wow—amazing, compelling and so imaginative, I just gobbled it up and I can't wait to get stuck into the next one. Having said that, the narration is rather annoying in places but the character is a castrati and described as having a high voice so I can't see how he could have portrayed it in any other way. Great stuff.
It is difficult to relate positively to the main characters who are largely victims of their own stupidity and fail to adapt to their changing circumstances. The base narration is in a female Dutch accent and the principle male character, a castrato, is squeaky and unbelievable. Although I admire the passion and delivery of the narration, the overall effect is extreme irritation. The excerpts from the 'Mandrakes Herbal' included at the end of each chapter are interesting and show how folklore was used to explain every daily event. Most impressive, as always is the insight into medieval life of ordinary people in Norfolk.
I have never listened to Ms Maitland's books before,the brief audio sample sounded quite interesting.
However the book quickly descends into utter farce- the story is told by (good grief)- a mandrake root!
If this isn't bad enough- it goes on for HOURS.
Terrible plot- terrible characters (a eunach ex soldier now bailiff)
A complete waste of time & money.
One for the round filing cabinet.
What a dark world Karen Maitland conjures up - one where her characters can never be free to choose their destiny or create a life of their own, one in which it seems everyone is doomed to struggle against forces greater than them - a moment of ignorance or weakness leads to a lifetime of struggle, pain, fear and no escape even in death where punishment will continue for ever. The story is exciting, the narration in the person of the Mandrake Root with a strong foreign accent is really irritating at first but after a few hours becomes normal. Like many writers she spins the story out by jumping across the different threads and characters so I found it hard to follow at times and got confused. Possibly it would make more sense on the page. Most disappointing is the ending - just when I thought it would resolve positively it descends into another round of hellish torment making you realise these characters have no escape and no possibility of being happy in their lives.
I love the folklore and the way she creates the period and atmosphere but the sheer weight of darkness is ultimately oppressive - events take characters from bad to worse to far worse to unendurable and there is no relief ever from the tangled knots of circumstance - no redemption and no happy ending. I wish it had ended with at least a note of hope instead of desolation - was going to read her next one but I cannot bear books that offer no hope of a positive outcome and seem to punish characters at every turn. a dark world from which there is no escape - if you like that then you'll love this - I feel cheated now.
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