Historical Fiction Mystery Thriller

The Owl Killers – Karen Maitland

4 April 2019
The Owl Killers Book Cover The Owl Killers
Karen Maitland
Penguin UK
March 26, 2009

Another sensational slice of Dark Ages Gothic from the author of the triumphant seller Company of LiarsEngland, 1321Welcome to the Dark AgesIn the heart of the countryside lies an isolated village, where pagan Owl Masters rule through fear, superstition and murder.When a group of religious women ill-advisedly settles outside the village, they awaken dangerous jealousies. Why do their crops succeed? How do their cattle survive the plague? Are they concealing a holy relic which protects them from harm?The Owl Masters cry 'Witchcraft' and sharpen their talons. As torment and hellfire rain down, the women must look to their faith to save them from the darkness spreading across the land.Fear is a question of what you believe.And death alone the answer. Karen Maitland lives in Lincolnshire and is the author of The White Room, which won an Author's Club Best First Novel Award, and Company of Liars, published to outstanding critical acclaim in 2008.

Karen Maitland’s ability to create the 14th century English village scene is fantastic. The tug-of-war between religion and superstition is ever present, and the atmosphere is full of distrust. Into this fine balance comes a group of Beguine women who establish a community on their own land. Their female community work hard on the land and utilise many other skills that enable them to sell goods at the markets. Their independence is a threat to the church and the Lord of the region who control the locals and raise their money from the villagers.

The Beguine community is led by the capable Servant Martha and when crops fail for the villagers and hard times fall on the local community, the Beguines don’t experience the same problems and provide food and shelter for the starving at no cost. Obviously, the Lord and church are feeling it in their pockets and with a secret Owl Cult prepared to cause damage and harassment all is focused on making life difficult if not impossible for the Beguines. 

The narrative comes from 5 characters including 2 Beguine women, a young village girl, the priest and the Lord’s daughter. Each character is fabulously drawn and the story illustrates their perspective on life, their preconception, motivations and beliefs. Life is harsh for common folk and in times of plague and disaster, starvation and homelessness became prevalent. The jealousies from the church caused them to be branded witches. While more Godly and Christain than the Church, they faced excommunication and also become a target from the pagan Owl Cult. The Owl Cult is secret but they must come from the area.

The plot is excellent, the pace is perfect, even when setting the scene, and the dialogue is captivating. The atmosphere of menace and foreboding is something that Karen Maitland does extremely well and that sense of apprehension and anxiety is brilliantly captured.

I would highly recommend this book as it is a joy to read.

Peter Donnelly

Founder of The Reading Desk, supporting readers, authors, publishers and book industry. Top Reviewer on Amazon, Goodreads, and NetGalley peter@thereadingdesk.com

Find Reviews
High Quality Honest Reviews
Latest Tweets