The Hangman’s Daughter is an historical novel, penned by Oliver Pötzsch, that begins in seventeenth century Germany (1660, to be exact) when a boy, who had been savagely beaten and stabbed, is pulled from the river by a woodcutter with a mark crudely tattooed on his shoulder.
The local hangman, Jakob Kuisl, is called upon to investigate whether witchcraft is involved. This fast- paced historical thriller is gripping. At once you are intrigued by the historical aspects of the life of an executioner and care about the characters and their fate.
Oliver Pötzsch–a descendent of the Kuisls, a famous Bavarian executioner clan, weaves historical accuracy into his fictional count and uses the names of his real ancestors for key characters including Jakob Kuisl, his wife Anna Maria, and their children Magdalena (for whom the tale is named), and twins Georg and Barbara. For dramaturgical reasons portions of the book are simplified from what would have taken place in seventeenth century Bavaria.
The Hangman’s Daughter was published in it’s original German text in 2008, then translated, by Lee Chadeayne, and published in English in 2010.
A few of the action scenes were a bit tedious, and I have to wonder if they would have seemed so if I were able to read the original German text, or if something may have been lost in translation. More than once I found myself wandering in seventeenth century Bavaria and was amazed at the transportation to another time via the page. I enjoyed learning about the rivalry between “modern medicine” and traditional potions prescribed by unschooled practitioners like the Hangman. I also enjoyed learning more about the political and social structure of the time. I consumed the story of The Hangman’s Daughter quickly, and wasted no time downloading the sequel, The Dark Monk, to my Kindle.
***I received copies of The Hangman’s Daughter and The Dark Monk for review as a BzzAgent.***