The Vanishing Witch, Paperback Book

The Vanishing Witch Paperback

4 out of 5 (2 ratings)


The Vanishing Witch by Karen Maitland, author of the hugely popular Company of Liars will thrill fans of CJ Sansom and Kate Mosse with its chilling recreation of the Peasants' Revolt.

It offers an intelligent, beautifully researched glimpse of a more deadly, superstitious era ...'A compelling blend of historical grit and supernatural twists' Daily Mail on The Falcons of Fire and Ice The reign of Richard II is troubled, the poor are about to become poorer still and landowners are lining their pockets.

It's a case of every man for himself, whatever his status or wealth.

But in a world where nothing can be taken at face value, who can you trust? The dour wool merchant? His impulsive son? The stepdaughter with the hypnotic eyes? Or the raven-haired widow clutching her necklace of bloodstones? And when people start dying unnatural deaths and the peasants decide it's time to fight back, it's all too easy to spy witchcraft at every turn.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Headline Publishing Group
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Historical fiction
  • ISBN: 9781472215017

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Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.

Review by

Robert of Bassingham is a wealthy cloth merchant in the city of Lincoln. One day he is approached by Widow Catlin, who seeks his advice with regard to investing some of the money left to her by her husband. Soon Robert finds himself falling head over heels for the comely widow, despite protestations to his wife that it isn’t so. When Edith starts to fall ill, Catlin moves into the house to care for her, bringing her grown-up son Edward and her adolescent daughter Leonia with her.At the same time, labourers and peasants up and down the country are literally up in arms as a result of King Richard II levying a heavy poll tax on every man and woman over the age of fifteen. Feeling they are left with no other recourse, rebels march on London to parley with the king. Though the riots and execution-style murders are centred on London, the ripples of rebellion are making themselves felt even in faraway Lincoln.Karen Maitland is one of my favourite authors as she consistently keeps the reader engaged with her dark tales of England’s medieval past, exploring events that other authors of historical fiction novels disregard in favour of more popular periods (e.g. the Tudors). Her characters, in particular the female ones, are strong and convincing, her descriptions of everyday customs, fashions, dishes and occupations, infused with some local dialect, adding real atmosphere, making a bygone age appear before your inner eye. Usually infused with a fair amount of the supernatural, she manages to make everything paranormal appear terrifyingly plausible. As always, she takes the time and trouble to deepen the interested reader’s understanding of the events portrayed in the novel by adding a fairly comprehensive glossary and historical notes in the appendix.With regards to the plot, it twists and turns like the snake on the front cover, and I won’t be giving too much away by saying that not everyone lives to see the end of the book, and that some are not what they at first appear. It’s fair to say that I was gripped from beginning to end and raced through the nearly 700 pages in less than a week, yet it still felt as if I was leaving some of the characters too soon. If that’s not recommendation enough, then I don’t know what is.(This review was written as part of Amazon's Vine programme.)

Review by

I was pretty excited when I received a copy of this to review via Bookbridgr, because I've enjoyed all Maitland's work so far. And this is certainly very much like her other work in tone and style -- the historical setting, carefully drawn; female characters focused on, as least as much as the male ones; hints at supernatural aspects without anything being completely overt.<br/><br/>Unfortunately, it also has the kind of plot and twist I expected from Karen Maitland's work, as well. It's very effective in the first couple of books I've read by her, but I predicted it here and that took away some of the enjoyment. She still has great control of pacing, a great handle on her characters and how they relate to each other, how people manipulate each other. But I <I>expected</i> the story to play out as it did, almost from reading the first hundred pages.<br/><br/>It's still a good story, but that knowing really disappointed me. I'm hoping for something more different from Maitland's next novel: something that will surprise and intrigue me the way her first book did, instead of just being enjoyable. I've read all her other books in almost one sitting, but the last two have been more comfortable, just books to sit down and read when I had time. I'm hoping for the compulsive quality of the first couple.

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