Friday, June 22, 2012

The Hangman's Daughter

The Hangman's Daughter by Oliver Potzsch

Grade: B+
Profanity: Very little
Graphic content (sex, murder,etc.): Murder and some sexual references. Nothing too gory or explicit.

This was my choice for our latest Book Club. I picked it up in the book store a few months ago just because I liked the cover. I did read the summary before I purchased it though to make sure it sounded interesting. ; )   This is what it said:
Simon turned the boy on his belly. With a vigorous tug he ripped open the shirt on the back as well. A groan went through the crowd.
Beneath one shoulder blade there was a palm-size sign of a kind that Simon had never seen before -- a washed-out purple circle with a cross protruding from the bottom.
For a moment, there was total silence on the pier. Then the first screams rose. "Witchcraft! There's witchcraft involved!" Somebody bawled: "The witches have come back to Schongau! They're getting our kids!"
The Hangman's Daughter is set in 17th-century Bavaria, a state in Germany. The original novel is actually written in German... My version was translated into English by Lee Chadeayne. I worry a little when I read translated books that some of the story/ meaning of certain things gets lost in the process. But I didn't really get that feeling with this book.
The title is a little misleading though... While the hangman's daughter plays a chief role in the book, I'm not sure why it's named for her. The 2 driving characters are the hangman himself and a young doctor who has a thing for the daughter.
The Hangman's Daughter is sort of a murder mystery. Clues are given to point in different directions throughout the story, and while I had my suspicions concerning certain people, I didn't have the culprit pinpointed until the big reveal.
The story flowed very well for me and kept my interest the whole time. I enjoyed the characters... Potzsch made it easy to love the good guys and despise the bad guys. But he left room regarding certain characters for you to decide which side they were on... the good side or the bad side. I think it roused questions of moral values vs. political duties.
I also found it interesting that Potzsch is an actual descendant of the Kuisl family, a well-known line of hangmen and the main characters in the book. When asked what initially inspired Potzsch to write this story, he said:
As a descendant of the executioner's dynasty Kuisl, I have been fascinated by their history since my childhood. Engaging myself with the Kuisls makes me feel connected to a greater lineage. In addition, executions are a fascinating topic often treated with undue prejudice. In this respect my books are a defense of my ancestors' honour.
The book held lots of action and suspense, so I think boys and girls alike would enjoy it. Due to the violence though I wouldn't recommend it for the kiddos. I really enjoyed reading it, and I just ordered the follow-up novel, The Dark Monk, so we'll see how it compares to this one.

1 comment:

  1. This sounds really interesting. You find such interesting books. Things I wouldn't have thought to pick up :)


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