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