Book Reviews

A Gathering of Ghosts by Karen Maitland

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List Price: £14.99


Paperback: 544 Pages.

Published: 06 September 2018 by Headline Review

ISBN: 9781472235886

EAN: 9781472235886

Pagans tackle the Knights of St John with terrible consequences in the new medieval thriller by Queen of the Dark Ages, Karen Maitland. Set on the wilds of Dartmoor, this is a ghostly tale for fans of The Essex Serpent or C. J. Sansom's Shardlake series.


4.0 Stars4.0 Stars4.0 Stars4.0 Stars  by Debra Found

Thorough Historical Research

I have been a fan of Karen Maitland's books for a while now having read several. I was so pleased when the opportunity arose to read this one.

Set in 14th century Dartmoor, we see the clash between the Church and the old ways. The sisters of the Knights of St John have taken over the pagan well & dedicated it to St Lucia. Pilgrims come from far & wide to take its water & look for healing. On the moor Morwen, her sisters and her Mother abide by the old ways & continue to call for help from the spirits of the moor. On the other side of the moor it is being torn apart by the tinners. A famine is across the land & everyone is starving - regardless of their beliefs. Who are the strangers who arrive & what influence will they have with the pagan or Christian beliefs.

One of the big draws of Karen Maitland's books is the extensive historical research. Her use of language and attention to detail is brilliant throughout the book and there are interesting historical appendices at the back.

This book does become very mystical with much centering around the pagan beliefs and the calling of the pagan spirits. Towards the end this got really rather confusing and wild & I lost track of it all. The threads did all come together at the end and story was completed well but there was definite wobble for me - the night was dark, various people were stumbling around the moors, spirits were being raised, hounds were barking, there was a storm & it was all a little confusing.

This is not a cheery period of history so readers shouldn't be surprised by the lack of light relief throughout the books. The characters are well portrayed with detailed personalities but little in the way of light heartedness - life is a struggle everyday.

This is not my favourite book by Karen Maitland although I did still enjoy it. I shall be on the lookout for any future books & keen to read them.

I received a free copy of this book via Netgalley.

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