The Gallows Curse by Karen Maitland
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The blurb: Set in the reign of King John, when the whole of England was under sentence of excommunication (among other issues, King John wouldn’t accept the Pope’s choice of Archbishop). Can you imagine the chaos – all the churches closed, King John in retaliation arresting every priest who hadn’t fled and the people terrified of dying in sin without the last rites? No burials were permitted on consecrated land, no marriages were conducted, no babies baptized. But I don’t want to reveal much more, except to say the plot involves people-trafficking, murder and, oh yes… a very feisty dwarf and a eunuch with a hunger for revenge.
My review: I chose this book because I thought it was a story relating to the black death. The reason I thought this was because the cover had the word “black” on it and my mind jumped to conclusions. Unfortunately, the book had nothing to do with the plague. However, the story is set in 1210, which is a dark time and there are lots of twists and turns to the plot line, so, my mistake was a fortunate one.
The Gallows Curse is about… well, a curse. The twisted plot was impressive. As were the characters. There are a bunch of strong women characters in this book. And there are a number of scenes that will either have you glued to the pages or feeling revolted. It’s a story that starts out slow (and I don’t mean boring slow either) and picks up the pace as the storyline is revealed.
This is the first book I’ve read by Karen Maitland but it will not be the last. I enjoyed this story, even though the plague was nowhere in sight. Highly recommended.