The Owl Killers by Karen Maitland

Posted on July 25, 2010

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The Owl Killers by Karen Maitland is a great book set in the dark ages of England.

book cover of   The Owl Killers   by  Karen Maitland

It is the story of a group of women who travel from France to open a beguinage in rural England.  The town is inhabited by superstitious locals, a priest who is losing control of his flock, and a nobility who could care less if their surfs starved to death.

This story is a battle, at its core, between modern religion and old superstitions.

The struggle comes in the form of a group of men known as the owl killers who are killing and scaring the villagers to take power away from the church and give it back to the nobility.  The murders and terror go unchecked until the ladies arrive and open their doors and hearts to the people. Soon the beguines have their own personal saint, a holy relic, villagers who are afraid of them and villagers who take shelter with them, “owls” trying to kill them and a church trying to excommunicate them, and when the conflict finally comes to a head, there is no knowing who will win till the very last page.

I was lucky in finding this book. My girlfriend and I went into a bookshop in Notting Hill, London, England to escape the mass of people and to check out the 1 quid comics (bellow is a photo of it and address if you are ever in the area).  I was looking at the shelves almost absentmindedly when I stumbled upon the word owl on one of the spines. I pulled it from the shelf and quickly tucked it under my arm, no doubt I was going to buy it, and I am glad I did.

The story unfolds slowly, but deliberately.  Each chapter is told from the viewpoint of a different character be it priest, villager, beguine, owl killer or anyone else the author could use to further the plot.

Unlike a lot of books there are no unnecessary words in this text. Each one pushes the plot along and helps develop the story into a fascinating and engaging story I couldn’t put down.

I hope you, my faithful readers, will buy this book and read it.  Karen Maitland is a gifted writer and storyteller and she deserves for millions of people to know her name.

14 Pembridge Road, Notting Hill, London W11 3HL
0207 229 8420

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