Every so often, I get back onto a historical thriller kick. This one caught my eye because the author is actually descended from the Schongau executioEvery so often, I get back onto a historical thriller kick. This one caught my eye because the author is actually descended from the Schongau executioner family, and has a lot of family lore at his disposal. I've also got a pretty strong personal connection to Bavaria, so this was a natural choice to read.
Despite the title, the daughter isn't really the focal point of the story. This is a mystery-thriller in which a town executioner and a physician team up to solve a rash of child murders in Schongau, a town that had already gone through an extensive bout of witch trials and executions about 30 years prior to this story. There are a lot of interesting details about trade routes, and how the economics of the time really depended on the roads and who controlled them, and about how the trial system and local governments operated in the Schongau area during this time. There are also some pretty interesting details about how a witch trial operates. It's a pretty harsh thing to read about, but it's also interesting. I found that the first chapter, which deals with a public execution, was the most gruesome.
The language was a bit stilted, probably due to the translation from the original German. Some characters have some fairly anachronistic-seeming views, which Pötzsch addresses in his afterword. This always distracts me when I'm reading historical fiction, but I suppose it does make the characters more relatable to a modern reader.
I enjoyed this one enough to read the sequel, but I do admit that the author's background and the setting of the book are around 60% of the draw for me....more
I was really jonesing for a good fantasy romp with a strong female character. What I got was an unconvincing love story between a witch and a vampire.I was really jonesing for a good fantasy romp with a strong female character. What I got was an unconvincing love story between a witch and a vampire. I'm a pretty committed reader, so I finished the thing, but not without rolling my eyes a lot. It's a guilty read for sure.
It's my preference, but I just do not do well with the whirlwind romance plot, and that is a huge amount of this book. The two principle characters are just ga-ga for each other after just meeting, and it leaves the supposedly self-sufficient main character, a witch named Diana, utterly undermined. I guess the vampire, Matthew, being really protective of Diana is supposed to be attractive, but he just comes through as a domineering asshole who gets really angry when Diana does things he doesn't like. I think what really hammered the timeline of this book through was, near the end, when Diana realizes that her last period ended right before she met Matthew, and it was about to start again. This realization comes after they had gotten vampire-married and she vampire-adopted his vampire-kids whom she had met only once. LESS THAN A MONTH, AND ALL THIS HAS HAPPENED. ACK.
Also, this vampire guy watches Diana protectively while she sleeps, which is actually a bit of a phobia of mine. It was not hot in Twilight, and it is not hot here.
Also, way too many words devoted to vampires and witches cooking/not cooking for each other. ...more
Non-fiction audiobooks are currently my catnip, and I pretty much listened to this one all the time - on the bus, cooking, at the gym. It's a nice, loNon-fiction audiobooks are currently my catnip, and I pretty much listened to this one all the time - on the bus, cooking, at the gym. It's a nice, long history that exhaustively covers these women who are too often obscured by their famous husband or by their enduring reputations. I was pleasantly surprised by how much screen time Anne of Cleves got, because she was always hastily dismissed as the "didn't even count" queen in my European history courses. She sounds like she was a pretty rad lady.
I've read a couple of Alison Weir's books, and they're very well-written and compelling, but I think they work better for me as audiobooks. I'm in the middle of her biography of Elizabeth I at the moment (yes, this book has me on a Tudor kick right now), which is also quite compelling....more
Reza Aslan is a good choice for narrating his own book. He has a compelling voice, and is good at injecting the passion for his scholarship into the bReza Aslan is a good choice for narrating his own book. He has a compelling voice, and is good at injecting the passion for his scholarship into the book (which is interesting and dramatic in its own right).
I am a Unitarian Universalist with a strong agnostic humanist bent, and I'm becoming more of a religious history junkie. This book tickled my fancy in all sorts of good ways. Yay!...more
Really, really engaging. I have a little bit of background knowledge of the political situation from this period in England, but I don't think you neeReally, really engaging. I have a little bit of background knowledge of the political situation from this period in England, but I don't think you need it to enjoy the book. The only difficult part is that Mantel will occasionally change the narrative voice without warning, which was sometimes hard to follow. Also, there are a lot of characters with the same common first names (not really a choice in the matter with a historical novel). I thought the cast list and the family tree at the beginning of the book were helpful. I immediately bought the sequel, "Bring up the Bodies," and am quickly running through that one as well!...more
It's a bit awesome how compelling these books are. I'll give Martin this: he writes characters I love to hate and characters I hate to love, and veryIt's a bit awesome how compelling these books are. I'll give Martin this: he writes characters I love to hate and characters I hate to love, and very few others. Many of the perspectives from the last three books are conspicuously absent here and there are new voices mixed in, both from characters who haven't been around before and major players from the first books.
This is pretty much what you would expect from these books by now - swords and sorcery, adventures, knights, super gruesome demises, and a great heaping pile of political intrigue that keeps getting bigger and more complicated.
With the exception of "The Last Unicorn," I think Beagle's real strength is short story writing. There are stories for all kinds of tastes in this newWith the exception of "The Last Unicorn," I think Beagle's real strength is short story writing. There are stories for all kinds of tastes in this new compilation, and all are interesting in their own right. I think "The Rabbi's Hobby" is the strongest story in this collection, and one of Beagle's better short stories in general. Some of the stories were clearly written for younger audiences ("Up the Down Beanstalk" and "The Best Worst Monster"), but it's good to have them included in this volume as well. There's a Schmendrick story in here as well, which pleased me greatly....more
I had a really high opinion of "I Am Legend," which is a novella that takes up a good chunk of this publication. The rest of the volume is made up ofI had a really high opinion of "I Am Legend," which is a novella that takes up a good chunk of this publication. The rest of the volume is made up of short stories by Matheson, some of which are great, although some of them are unsettling in ways he did not intend. He's much too fond of using stereotypes as a mechanism for some of his horror stories, like African witch doctors and cursed African dolls and the like. However, the stories that did not include his clumsy attempts at these elements are actually quite good. Matheson is really, really good at creating a dark and scary atmospheric element in his work, and it stays absorbing and accessible. He's even got a perceptible sense of humor, especially in his very short stories. I think he's much better at writing from a male perspective than a female's, but he does show a bit of range in his attempts....more
Meh. I wanted to like this as much as the first book, but it just did not live up to the task. This is a lot of repetition of stuff from the last bookMeh. I wanted to like this as much as the first book, but it just did not live up to the task. This is a lot of repetition of stuff from the last book with a ton of foreshadowing for future Plot, but there's a lot of space in between that wasn't very interesting. For as long as this book is, it took a whole lot of time to get anywhere. There was an excruciatingly long part wherein our SIXTEEN YEAR OLD hero goes into Faerie and has mind-blowing sex with a fairy temptress, which goes on for chapters. And, instead of dying or going nutso like every other dude who has ever slept with her, Our Hero is so good at The Sex that she's super impressed and even lets him leave Faerie so he can (I guess) compare her to others, sexually. What. Ever.
This needed a lot of fat trimmed off of it. And sixteen year olds, much as they might wish for it, are not sex gods. ...more