The Gallows Curse- Karen Maitland

The Gallows Curse (Jul)

In my last blogpost, I wrongly said this was Company of Liars, which is by the same author and which I read nearly four years ago (it was good.)

This was the first book to be read as part of my book buying ban 2014 and it was a book on my Kindle that I didn’t even remember buying! Anyway, having enjoyed the author’s previous two books, I knew I’d enjoy this one.

Karen Maitland writes books set in Middle Ages England; she deals with plague, witchcraft and class warfare, as well as the everyday lives of her characters. Imagine Game of Thrones, but without the dragons. In The Gallows Curse, we follow two main characters: a castrato named Raffaele, who fought in the Crusades with his now dead best friend and a poor girl, Elena, who he tricks into becoming a ‘sin eater’ (the churches are closed, as King John decides to have a fight with the Pope.) Oh, and just to add to the drama, she’s also pregnant and in possession of a mandrake which is said to have magical powers.

After Elena is accused of a horrendous crime, which she did not commit, she needs to escape her manor and makes her way to Norfolk and finds herself in a brothel that has some deep, dark secrets- the question is whether she manages to escape from her own skeletons…

I really enjoyed this, although not as much as I remember enjoying the first two books. It’s generally quick paced and the characters are really well-drawn. Although it could be a bit confusing remembering who the more minor characters were and what their motivations were, I found that I was soon able to pick the story up again after a blip.

If you like your novels hefty but easy to read, this one could definitely be one for the beach!

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