This is the first book I have read by this author and I have to say I am hooked.
Set in medieval England the Gallows Curse is a tale of intrigue and political plotting mixed with a healthy dose of witchcraft and the supernatural. Each chapter is preceded by an excerpt from a fictional folklore book which gives an insight to the beliefs held by the common folk of the time, is details the uses for various herbs and plants in everyday life as well as their uses in or against witchcraft.
The book’s plot follows the twists in the lives of various characters as they become unwittingly entwined. One aspect I found extremely interesting was the notion of the sin-eater, that a person on their death be absolved of their sins by feeding those sins to another to bear. Set against the real historical facts of the time Maitland draws on both religious and political events of the time to create a spider web which will have you well and truly trapped within its pages.
The book also raises the interesting question of the sins carried by those who took part in the crusades, whether those who committed the acts were in equal blame to those who ordered the committed, this has resonance still when you consider more recent history and how those who argued they were only following orders are viewed with modern eyes.
The author has included a chapter at the end explaining the history of the time and also a glossary of the terms used for anyone not acquainted with the period which was most helpful.
A huge 5 out of 5. If I have one slight complaint it is at the publisher, this book cries out for a sequel yet they publish the opening chapters of another novel by the author at the end, yes the new novel sounds good but it breaks the spell created by the main story.