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The Poisoned Pilgrim (US Edition) (A Hangman's Daughter Tale) by Oliver P?tzsch (2013-07-16) Mass Market Paperback – January 1, 1860
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This is the fourth in The Hangman's Daughter series, entitled The Poisoned Pilgrim. I rated the book a four for the plot line and the development of the characters. I did not have the option to rate a three for inconsistency, writing/translation, redundancy, and inconsistency. The gist of the novel is that multitudes are climbing a mountain to a monastery for the celebration of "the three hosts," an annual religious event. The year is 1666 and the setting is a village in Bavaria close to where the author actually grew up. The novel contains myriad simultaneous stories within the central story, and this is quite well done. The lead Benedictines are painted with a negative brush while little is written about the ordinary monks who comprise the majority of the community. The novel is replete with a type of sensory and visual realism, that is, the rough conditions of the time, the intertwining of Church and State, the smells of feces and floating carcasses, and so forth. Superstition and religion are difficult to separate, while there is evidence that science is beginning to present itself at the monastery. A major translation or author error relates to the improper use of the word "novitiate". This word means either a place where novices of an order live and are trained or a period of time which novices spend in special prayer and learning. The proper word for a person who is in this period of development is "novice" (L. novus = new). The novel consistently transposes novitiate for novice, an indication of superficial knowledge/bad translation of the text. In general, the novel is recommended if you can overlook mistranslation issues and Simon, the medicus, behaving out of character.
While the couple's journey begins as a trip to the monastery at Andechs to give thinks for their children's survival, it quickly becomes a lot more complicated as there are mysterious happenings at the religious site. Getting there, they are part of a group that get caught in a dangerous thunder storm and are rescued by an ugly monk.
But a quiet time of prayer and reflection are not in the cards. Two of the monks apparently are early explorers into science and their experiments are being seen for something more sinister. In addition, some of the villagers and the guests are becoming sick. Simon is quickly put to task treating those who have become ill but both begin a bit of snooping as the body count from both illness and mysterious events begin to climb — including the disappearance of one monk, the watchmaker.
Potzsch has created a world of the 1600s in which most of life is still filled with portents of witchcraft and as the mysteries continue, the simple solution is to find a witch causing the mysterious events. And who better than a monk whose explorations are beyond the understanding of those around him. Ugly to boot, the monk is quickly accused.
Simon and Magdalena know better; someone is actually using science to cause misadventure and they are on the hunt for a solution. Time is running out and soon, Magdalena turns to her father to help find the solution to a missing monk and the mysterious deaths.
Potzsch delves into his family history for a strong basis of his mysteries. This world is one of rare education and easy suspicions o those who are different. It is easy to see why someone who can read and explore would be looked at differently and when bad things happen, to place the blame whether right or wrong.
And in creating his characters of Simon, Magdalena and her father, the hangman Jakob, he has indeed come up with a very good read. It is hard not to follow along and be riveted to their efforts to solve not one but several mysteries at the monastery. This may not be great reading but it is a very good read.
Top reviews from other countries
Great story line, so interesting
I am definitely purchasing other Oliver Potzsch novels from now on