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The Owl Killers

New or Used: $26.40
New or Used: $26.40

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About the Author

Karen Maitland lives in Lincolnshire and is the author of Company of Liars.


In the tiny English village of Ulewic in 1321, a struggle brews between the Owl Masters, who want to bring back pagan worship, and a group of pious Christian women, called beguines, who merely wish to be left in peace. Having suffered from floods and famine, the town takes bitter notice of the Christian women, who are continually spared. As suspicion grows, the Owl Masters find aid from an unlikely source, the village priest, who's determined to pursue the "criminal" women in order to hide his own sins. U.K. novelist Maitland's jumpy narrative is, unfortunately, a poor showcase for the fascinating conflict, and she never seems to decide whether the Owlman is demon or myth, and other loose threads are left to dangle. Still, she produces an interesting examination of an unfamiliar time and place, finding effective lures in lessons on sexism and xenophobia. (Oct.) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

Told from the viewpoints of multiple characters, Maitland's second medieval novel of suspense (after A Company of Liars) is a real page-turner. Set in England in 1321, amid famines, plagues, and social conflicts, the story follows events in the village of Ulewic, whose inhabitants, including the priest, are held in thrall by a powerful secret pagan society, the Owl Masters. On the community's outskirts, a small band of women have established a beguinage-a safe sanctuary for women, not nuns, who have chosen to forgo the company of men and support themselves. When the villagers' crops fail and animals become ill, even as those of the beguinage are spared, whispers of witchcraft begin, fueled by the Owl Masters and their desire for a return to the male-dominated worship of the old powers. Carefully researched and meticulously crafted, the story enthralls, transporting the reader back to an earlier era that nonetheless seems to echo aspects of society today. Verdict This gripping work should appeal to readers who enjoy books with medieval settings like Ariana Franklin's "Mistress of the Art of Death" series; those who like novels of suspense will also want to give it a try.-Pamela P. O'Sullivan, Coll. at Brockport Lib., SUNY Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

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