Thursday, 28 February 2013

The Owl Killers by Karen Maitland


 Review by Liza Perrat
Having loved Company of Liars, I was excited to read Karen Maitland’s next novel, The Owl Killers, set in Ulewic, a 14th century village near Norfolk.

For centuries, Ulewic has been ruled by both the lord of the manor and by the Owl Masters - a predatory, pagan group empowered by fear, blackmail and superstition to dispense a harsh form of law and order.
A group of religious women settles in a beguinage outside the village and when their crops succeed and their animals survive diseases, jealousy and conflict are brought to a head in Ulewic.
The author uses a multiple narrative voice flawlessly, each voice distinct and compelling. I engaged with every one of the characters, whose lives are drawn out smoothly and interwoven into the main story in an unobtrusive and enjoyable way.
Pagan and Christian ways intermingle and clash, the story steeped in witchcraft, heresy, mystery, suspense and tragedy. At times very dark and bleak, it also evokes human nature at its best, and explores the power of faith.
The author has vividly brought to life a medieval community where the mind was ruled by religion and superstition. Through simple, lyrical prose, she builds the plot to a conclusion that provides both resolution and the expectation of what might have happened next.
Karen Maitland truly knows how to write about what interests her, and I would highly recommend The Owl Killers to fans of historical fiction and the supernatural.

Review by Liza Perrat - first published in Words with JAM

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