Download Epub Format » The Gallows Curse PDF by ✓ Karen Maitland 4.
25 stars for Maitland, Mistress of the medieval At the beginning of each chapter she gives us a taste of her knowledge of 13th century superstitions as it pertains to trees For the ash is a sacred tree and the three weird sisters of fate past, present and future water the ash so that it will never die And, at the roots of the ash tree lie three wells remembrance, rebirth and destruction And the deepest well of them all is destruction I enjoyed this less than the other 3 I ve read by her but still superb for atmosphere, characters personal favorite Mother Margot , here she is introduced The woman was a dwarf, no than three feet high, with a massive head, so that it looked as if the head of a giant had been placed on the body of an infant She was dressed in a long, loose scarlet robe, which though stained and a little threadbare, must once have been as costly as any gown of Lady Anne s Heavy gold bracelets squeezed around the bulging muscles of Ma s arms Her oiled black hair was coiled up like a snake on top of her head and fastened with long gold pins topped with jewels that glowed blood red in the candlelight Ma s yellow green eyes, bulging like a frog s, ran an appraising glance up and down Nothing ever turns out like you think in a Maitland.
The Thirteenth Century Is Just Begun And King John Has Fallen Out With The Pope, Leaving Babies To Lie Unbaptized In Their Cradles And Corpses In Unconsecrated Ground Across A Fear Ravaged England, The People Are Dying In SinIn The Village Of Gastmere, This Has Shocking Consequences For Servant Girl Elena Unwittingly Drawn Into A Macabre Scheme To Absolve Dying Lord Gerard Of His Crimes, Death And Betrayal Haunt Her Dreams Like A CurseAnd When Elena Is Threatened With Hanging For A Murder She Did Not Commit, It Is Certain That Unnatural Conspiracy Lies Behind These Dark Deeds But Where Can She Turn For In Every Face Lies Wickedness And In Every Shadow Lurks Treachery I wasn t as riveted by The Gallows Curse as I was by Karen Maitland s first book, Company of Liars Part of that was the fact that I ve been writing essays, and I haven t had a gallstone attack that could just keep me up all night with nothing to do but read And part of it is my reluctance to end up with no of her stuff to readLike Company of Liars, it s somewhat slow paced, based on a build up of tension that really works for me and might infuriate other readers I like Karen Maitland s interesting conceits of narration, and her way of ending stories it might get a bit annoying if every book has this kind of sting in the tail, because it ll stop being surprising, but so far I ve enjoyed both of them The Gallows Curse had a few loose ends than Company of Liars, I think, and I didn t care about the characters as much though Raffe is a truly awesome anti hero , but I still liked it a lot.
Maitland s range as a writer is quite exciting I ve got The Owl Killers to read, and then I look forward to reading her future works She does her historical research well, and weaves in fascinating supernatural threads, and still has talent left over for a deft touch with characters.
Novelist Karen Maitland puts the dark into the Dark Ages In her first two novels Company of Liars and The Owl Killers she took us into the seamy side of the 1300 s No knights and pageantry for Ms Maitland No martyrs or future Popes No farm boys turned empire builders or daughters of the squire scheming to marry up Her heroes and heroines are the unwashed, the common folk of the period struggling legally and illegally if necessary to survive and all too susceptible to superstition and the manipulations of those in a position to do them a little bit of good It s all a little twisty as well as dark and all the engaging for that Karen Maitland writes historical fiction that doesn t need royalty to fascinate Maitland s new novel, The Gallows Curse has a 13th century setting that has a soul satisfying mystery at its core The background for the storyline is the six year long battle between England s King John and Pope Innocent the III In 1207 the Pope selected a new Archbishop of Canterbury King John wasn t pleased by the choice so he refused to let the Archbishop enter England and then appropeated some Church lands The Pope in turn excommunicated John and put all of England under an interdict Essentially an interdict means that you are not allowed to recieve any Church rites baptism, marriage, last rites, etc Ultimately this treatment from the Church was one of the straws that broke the nobilities backs and in 1211 they forced King John to sign the Magna Carta Picture if you will a 13th century European country shunned by Rome At this moment in time the Catholic Church probably had influence and power over the average European citizen than any monarch It was certainly of a daily presence in the lives of the citizenry than any King would be The absence of the Church created a perfect storm for opportunists willing to use superstition, intimidation and hell fire for their own gain The Church was far from perfect but sometimes life is easier with the Devil you know.
In The Gallows Curse we get to wallow in 500 pages of schemers, prophecy, secrets, treachery, history, invention and Gothic melodrama In the middle of this entertaining mix is Elena a fifteen year old maidservant at Gastmere Manor At first Elena feels lucky to have been given the position at Gastmere but after gaining the attention of the young lord of the manor maybe Elena s luck isn t so good after all Soon Elena is pregnant and pursued for a crime she didn t commit She is helped by a mysterious local woman who sees Elena s troubles as her chance to settle old scores and Raffaele, steward of the manor Raffaele is an older man consumed by his own crimes He is convinced that there is nothing he can do to make up for the past That belief in his own evil brings an edge to his willingness to aid Elena, does he have his own agenda Maitland s bag of tricks gets a workout as she plays out Elena s and Raffaele s stories against an England that has been silenced by the Church This is where historical events butt up against everyday lives Betrayal, superstition, curses, fear, ignorance and suspicion fester away among the populace in The Gallows Curse Surrounding the plotline and the tensions in the novel is the filthy, thick with foreboding atmosphere Maitland has layered into the book Every twist of the tale brings Elena further away from safety and the reader deeper into a brutal, every day could be your last time period.
So far there is no pub date for a U.
S edition of The Gallows Curse Her other two novels were published over here so this might just me a matter of time My edition came from the U.
I started out liking this for the writing style, but I ended up disliking it for the plot and the characters The plot was overcooked We had The Gallows Curse of the title, plus the inderdict churches were closed by the Pope during the time this book was set, so no one could be baptised , married buried etc with resulting unrest and plots against the king Added to that were hideous deeds done during the crusades, plus a castrato who was there just to add period colour as far as I could see If that wasn t enough, there were secrets hinted at throughout the book Did I write hint It was like being beaten around the head with them, and they were mostly pretty obvious anyway.
Then there were the characters Elena was the main female character, who seemed to have a death wish If it was possible for her to say or do something to put her into danger, she did it without hesitation and then stood around feeling sorry for herself while other people rescued her I began to wish they wouldn t Next we have Raffe He loved Elena for her purity and innocence, so he arranged for her to be condemned to eternal damnation for something which someone else had done and then he hid her in a brothel where she would have to turn the occasional trick to stay alive There was a feeble effort at justifying this, but one of the characters in the book demolished that, so I didn t have to Finally, there was Lady Anne, the ageing, frail lady of the manor and part time serial killer of strong trained soldiers Actually I quite liked her and tried hard to suspend my disbelief that someone as frail as her could carry out the stranglings and stabbings that she was credited with, but unfortunately it really was too ridiculous for words.
Oh my goodness Wow isn t nearly a good enough superlative for what this author does.
Having LOVED her first 2 books I was a touch nervous starting The Gallows Curse in case it didn t live up to my very high expectations But it exceeded them I just cannot fault this lady s writing, she brings the dark ages to life in the most believeable ways, her use of modern language in conversation heavily peppered with atmospheric curses, makes it even accessible and easy to read yet the meticulous research and vast amount of facts and folklore she manages to cram in, make you feel you ve experienced her stories not just read them.
We follow the story of Elena, a Villein, plucked from village life and called to the manor to perform a simple task which has horrific repercussions in her life and those whose lives touch hers.
Tricked by Raffaele, the main male character, returned from the crusades, bearing guilt and a desire for revenge which taint his life.
In part the story is narrated by a mandrake and is steeped in witchcraft, myth, magic and superstition To say much might spoil the spell which will be cast over you when you journey back to the early 13th century and wallow around the marshes of Norfolk.
Fantastic, enjoyable, atmospheric writing I really battled between picking the book up and cracking on with it as I was desperate to know what happened next and leaving it a while as I so dreaded it coming to an end Well all good things must come to an end.
If you haven t read anything by Karen Maitland yet please do give her books a try, she is rapidly rising to the very top of my favourite authors list.

Book review of The Gallows Curse by Karen MaitlandI discovered Karen Maitland when I read her first book, The Company of Liars, and reading her third novel, Gallows Curse, I am once again struck my the colourful, vivid writing that makes her novels stand out from others You can literally smell the brothel, touch the food, see the hair ornaments twinkle Lots of meaty discussions can be had from this historical novel, which has much resonance for the modern reader Epic in length, gritty in tone, it is set in 1210 a time of filth, superstition, and suspicion Narrated by a mandrake, the novel is intersected with advice from The mandrake s Herbal which is a fascinating touch The novel has mainly themes to explore sexuality, religion, deception, the supernatural Something for everyone The inclusion of castrati, Raffaele, was especially interesting and made me think for the first time about the life of a man mutilated as a child to create an angelic voice Elena has been chosen by Raffaele to be a sin eater She is tricked into taking on Gerard s sins and this has a devastating effect on her dreams and life, leading to a sequence of events that take us from the fenland town of Gastmere to the massacre of the Saracen prisoners at Acre, taking in Raffaele s Italian boyhood along the way Epic in its scope and ambition Through it you can visit medieval England, sense the squalor in the air A fantastic book, highly recommended.
This was a rollicking, medieval soap opera that I thoroughly enjoyed.
A warning to you menfolk while the book is crammed with strong female characters, the guys tend to be either conniving bastards or lily livered wusses who do everything Mommy tells themeven if it s abstaining from sex My favorite exchange occurs when a crusty old battle ax is fearful that some of the king s men may have their way with her She is told, rather impolitely, by one gentleman,You can sleep soundly, mistress There s not a man alive who wouldn t sooner bed his own horse than try your virtue There was also this notable passage that shows how little has changed over the last several centuries, and that we are still fearful and superstitious people who do nasty things to one another Mortals are strange creatures they cling to life even when that life is nothing but pain and misery, yet they will throw away their lives for a word, an idea, even a flag Wolves piss to mark their territory Smell the stench of another pack and wolves will quietly slink away Why risk a fight when it might maim or kill you But humans will slash and slaughter in their thousands to plant their little piece of cloth on a hill or hang it from a battlement.
Like Karen Maitland s other two books, Company of Liars and The Owl Killers both great, by the way , this is a complex, labyrinthine mystery set in medieval England The Interdict of 1208 forms the background for the plot, which concerns two main characters The first is Elena, a 15 year old serving girl who becomes a runaway, and later finds herself tricked into prostitution, after she s accused of killing her own baby The second is Raffaelle, a tortured, revenge hungry steward who is forced out of his manor by the brothers he holds responsible for his own agonies during the Crusades, as well as those of his late best friend and master Gerard There are twists, turns and deaths galore as Raffaelle and Elena, both separately and together, attempt to outwit the treacherous Osborn and Hugh, making plenty of friends and enemies along the way Having enjoyed the author s previous novels so much, I expected a lot from The Gallows Curse, and it didn t disappoint The characters are wonderful Elena seems to be a bit of a clich at first innocent, beautiful young girl who has just about every tragedy possible thrown at her and survives despite the odds but I found myself warming to her and as the story went on As you see the horror and loneliness of life as a runaway villein and an unwilling whore through Elena s eyes, you end up rooting for her to make it through and get revenge on her tormentors In Raffaelle, meanwhile, Maitland has created a fascinating, flawed, contradictory antihero and probably my favourite character of all the books I ve read recently He s simultaneously repulsive and entrancing, hateful and heroic He does some awful and some great things he pays dearly for his sins and for attempting to selflessly help others, but it s impossible to ignore the fact that many of his actions are motivated purely by his lust for Elena Yet I ended up feeling sympathy for the character than I would had he been unbelievably perfect.
The glimpses into the characters pasts and memories are fantastic, and really make the whole story feel fleshed out The plot has everything violent deaths, sexual deviance, witchcraft, spying treason, prophetic dreams, a collection of caged exotic animals, shedloads of dark secrets and plenty of daring escapes, all against the backdrop of a 13th century England depicted so vividly you can almost taste it I love the way Maitland works elements of the supernatural into the plot without fanfare, so seamlessly you can easily believe magical beings and powerful witches really existed as part of everyday life back in medieval times the story is part narrated by a mandrake, and one of many subplots involves a pair of cunning women with an ancient grudge If there are flaws, they re to do with repetition in the language The characters utter the same curses over and over again God s blood, Satan s arse etc , and the words stench and stink are repeated way too much we get it, the Middle Ages weren t particularly fragrant Overall, however, such minor flaws didn t do much to dent my enjoyment of the book as a whole.
And then the ending I feel so conflicted by the ending view spoiler On one hand, I loved the way it defied expectations and didn t take any of the conventional routes a reader might anticipate On the other, I had invested so much in the characters by the last few chapters, I was genuinely upset that neither of the protagonists got much in the way of a happy ending Raffaelle s death was the WORST I understand why it happened from both a plot believablity and a character development point of view, but that doesn t mean I have to be happy about it Despite or perhaps because of the unlikeliness of it, I really did want Raffaelle and Elena to effectively ride off into the sunset together, even if only platonically, and Elena herself didn t get the best conclusion, divided from her baby son and unknowingly doomed to continue suffering the mandrake s curse I was also annoyed that Hugh didn t suffer a humiliating, public comeuppance after all his wrongdoings, and we didn t get to witness Osborn s fate either And seriously, what the hell happened to Finch hide spoiler