Synopses & Reviews
Germany, 1659: When a dying boy is pulled from the river with a mark crudely tattooed on his shoulder, hangman Jakob Kuisl is called upon to investigate whether witchcraft is at play in his small Bavarian town. Whispers and dark memories of witch trials and the women burned at the stake just seventy years earlier still haunt the streets of Schongau. When more children disappear and an orphan boy is found dead ? marked by the same tattoo ? the mounting hysteria threatens to erupt into chaos.Before the unrest forces him to torture and execute the very woman who aided in the birth of his children, Jakob must unravel the truth. With the help of his clever daughter, Magdelena, and Simon, the university-educated son of the town's physician, Jakob discovers that a devil is indeed loose in Schongau. But it may be too late to prevent bloodshed.
"The first novel from German screenwriter Pötzsch is a brilliantly-researched and exciting story of a formative era of history when witches were hunted and the inquisitors had little belief in their methods beyond their effect in pacifying superstitious townspeople. Jakob Kuisl, hangman of Schongau, must quickly find the person responsible for the occult murder of the local children and the kidnapping of his eldest daughter, Magdalena. Though the townspeople are convinced the local midwife is the murderer, and a witch, Jakob knows she is innocent and only has days to prove it. Teaming up with the physician's son, Simon, Jakob sets out to save the innocents and bring justice to the murderer, each step bringing him closer to evil and increasing the risk to his daughter and himself. Pötzsch, actually descended from a line of hangmen, delivers a fantastically fast-paced read, rife with details on the social and power structures in the town as well as dichotomy between university medicine and the traditional remedies, which are skillfully communicated through character interactions, particularly that of Magdalena and Simon. The shocking motivations from unlikely players provide for a twist that will leave readers admiring this complex tale from a talented new voice.
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