- Paperback: 435 pages
- Publisher: Mariner Books; Illustrated edition (2 August 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 054774501X
- ISBN-13: 978-0547745015
- Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.6 x 21 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 454 g
- Customer Reviews: 3,233 customer ratings
Hangman's Daughter: 1 Paperback – Illustrated, 2 August 2011
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The translator has done very well by the author; both setting and characters are vividly drawn, making for a compelling read . . . Based on the author's research into his own family history, this novel offers a rare glimpse into a less commonly seen historical setting. If you liked Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose, give this a try. --Library Journal Xpress
[Pötzsch's] novel reads quite vividly . . . Based on the author's family history, this excellent story brings 17th-century Bavaria alive with all its fears, superstitions and politics. Jacob Kuisl is not your ordinary hangman, and readers will root for him and his search for the truth. There's enough 'unreality' in the evil of superstitions that this novel may appeal to fantasy readers, and the twists and turns of the plot will appeal to mystery fans.--School Library Journal
A brilliantly-researched and exciting story of a formative era of history when witches were hunted and the inquisitors had little belief in their methods beyond their effect in pacifying superstitious townspeople . . . Pötzsch, actually descended from a line of hangmen, delivers a fantastically fast-paced read, rife with details on the social and power structures in the town as well as dichotomy between university medicine and the traditional remedies, which are skillfully communicated through character interactions, particularly that of Magdalena and Simon. The shocking motivations from unlikely players provide for a twist that will leave readers admiring this complex tale from a talented new voice. --Publishers Weekly This novel has been popular in Germany since its 2008 publication there, and it's easy to see why . . . [Pötzsch] does an excellent job of telling the story and supplying the historical backdrop. And his characters . . . are extremely well drawn and believable. Kudos, too, to translator Chadeayne, who retains the story's German flavor while rendering the text in smooth and highly readable English. Readers of historical fiction should find this very much to their liking. --Booklist I loved every page, character and plot twist of The Hangman's Daughter, an inventive historical novel about a 17th-century hangman's quest to save a witch--from himself. --Scott Turow
From the Inside Flap
Martha Stechlin s Life Was Not Worth a Penny
Magdalena, the clever and headstrong daughter of Bavarian hangman Jakob Kuisl, lives with her father outside the village walls and is destined to be married off to another hangman s son. Except the town physician s son is hopelessly in love with her, and her father s wisdom and empathy are as unusual as his despised profession.
It is 1659, the Thirty Years War has finally ended, and there hasn t been a witchcraft mania in decades. But now, a drowning and gruesomely injured boy, tattooed with the mark of a witch, is pulled from a river and the villagers suspect the local midwife, Martha Stechlin.
Jakob Kuisl is charged with extracting a confession from her and torturing her until he gets one. Convinced she is innocent, he, Magdalena, and her would-be suitor race against the clock to find the true killer. Approaching Walpurgisnacht, when witches are believed to dance in the forest and mate with the devil, another tattooed orphan is found dead and the town becomes frenzied. More than one person has spotted what looks like the devil a man with a hand made only of bones. The hangman, his daughter, and the doctor s son face a terrifying and very real enemy.
Taking us back in history to a place where autopsies were blasphemous, coffee was an exotic drink, dried toads were the recommended remedy for the plague, and the devil was as real as anything, The Hangman s Daughter brings to cinematic life the sights, sounds, and smells of seventeenth-century Bavaria, telling the engrossing story of a compassionate hangman who will live on in readers imaginations long after they ve put down the novel.
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While practicing his trade, Jakob has learned quite a bit about the human body as well as about how some potions can ease suffering. His knowledge is valued by some of his neighbours, who’d rather seek advice from him than other healers – even though visiting the hangman is believed as bringing bad luck.
The Thirty Years’ War has finally ended, and although witchcraft is feared, there’s been no mass hysteria about it for many years. Until a drowning and badly injured boy is pulled from the nearby Lech River. He has been tattooed with what the villagers believe is the mark of a witch, and they suspect Martha Stechlin, the local midwife.
‘None of this makes sense!’
Jakob Kuisl is charged with extracting a confession from Martha Stechlin, and is expected to torture her until he obtains it. Jakob believes that Martha is innocent, and he, Magdalena and Simon set out to identify the real killer. It’s approaching Walpurgisnacht (when witches are reputed to meet and celebrate) when another dead, tattooed child is found. The town is in a frenzy: especially as a number of people have reported seeing a man (surely the devil!) with a hand made only from bones. And, surely Martha is innocent as she was imprisoned when the second child’s body was found?
‘Have you lost all your senses, or what? Don’t you realize there’s a murderer at large?’
So, who is killing these children, and why? Will Jakob, Simon and Magdalena be able to solve the mystery before mass hysteria reigns supreme?
This novel takes the reader straight into a 17th century world in which superstition is rife and in which fear is easily invoked. I really enjoyed this story, both for the 17th century setting and especially for the character of Jakob Kuisl. I was intrigued to learn that Oliver Pötzsch is descended from the Kuisl family and that Jakob (and other family members in the novel) were real people.
There are other novels in the series as well: I’m working my way through them.
Top international reviews
The plot is fast-paced and engaging right from page one, and the author has created an assembly of characters encompassing those that you would love to hate, and also those you would hate to love. I have just finished reading the second Oliver Potzsch novel, and look forward to reading his third and latest...
The big fire burning with a pot of soup warming all day and the people in the streets with so little to live on trying to scratch out an existence. A very special author that I can't put down his books. Keep them coming Oliver!
I would recommend this book to any and all history enthusiasts.