Historical fantasy The Plague Charmer | 5* read

I found it very easy to visualise the setting of The Plague Charmer having spent a family holiday in Porlock Weir in August (you can see a couple of photos on My Sunday Photo of Porlock Weir and at the end of my review)!  Despite The Plague Charmer being set in 1361 and now being a tourist attraction, you still have a sense of isolation and it’s very open to the elements.

I loved the history mixed with the fantasy and there are interesting subplots running through the story too.  The Plague Charmer is a ‘dark’ read and it was perfect leading up to Samhain 🙂  A great read for these dark and gloomier months.

The Plague Charmer

Format: Kindle Edition

File Size: 2056 KB

Print Length: 576 pages

Publisher: Review (20 Oct. 2016)

Language: English

ASIN: B01ARXVTNG

Riddle me this: I have a price, but it cannot be paid in gold or silver.

1361. Porlock Weir, Exmoor. Thirteen years after the Great Pestilence, plague strikes England for the second time. Sara, a packhorse man’s wife, remembers the horror all too well and fears for safety of her children.
Only a dark-haired stranger offers help, but at a price that no one will pay.

Fear gives way to hysteria in the village and, when the sickness spreads to her family, Sara finds herself locked away by neighbours she has trusted for years. And, as her husband – and then others – begin to die, the cost no longer seems so unthinkable.

The price that I ask, from one willing to pay… A human life.

Review

The Plague Charmer may be a ‘dark’ read however Karen Maitland has created colourful and interesting characters.

There are several narrations – from Weir folk Sara and Matilda we have life from the perspective of fisherfolk who need the land to provide for them to live.  I loved the contradiction of how a village can pull itself apart but also work in collaboration; in Porlock Manor I was drawn in by the astute Lady Pavia, intriguing Christina, underhanded Sir Harry Gilmore and the stillroom maid; life with the charismatic Prophet in an underground cave was surreal and gave me all sorts of nightmares … ;  Will, the fake dwarf who is a newcomer to the Weir but with connections to Porlock Manor; and of course Janiveer, the woman saved from drowning.

There are hard hitting scenes – Sara and her family sealed into their cottage is so vivid.  It’s not just emotions that get pulled in but your senses too!  It was almost a relief for me when they get out, despite the changes and harshness that meet them.   Scenes underground with the Prophet made me feel like my skin was raw – exposed and vulnerable!  I have to say there was something compelling in Aldith leading the St Vitas Dance while Father Cuthbert was trying to perform Mass in the church – I could ‘feel’ that energy.  Abandoned village Kitnor was creepy and surreal … oh so much I could share!  It was so easy to be drawn into this world.  I didn’t see the threads that tie it all together, I was too busy enjoying being totally caught up living through this with these people (yes, it did feel real!).

Myth, legend, magic … I loved the fantasy as much as the historical.  The pace and switching to different narratives with different settings means the story didn’t feel like 576 pages – I was engaged throughout.  Definitely one to add if you like dystopian, historical or fantasy.

rating on Jera's Jamboree

A keeper

Connect with Karen Maitland

Website

Porlock Weir

Porlock Weir (August 2016)

 

Porlock Weir

Looking out from Porlock Weir (August 2016)

Porlock Weir

Porlock Marsh

 

Porlock

Porlock Weir at the base of the hill (August 2016)

 

Married with two sons in their early 20's, by day I'm an Inclusion Lead in a local school. I recharge my batteries by reading, being out in nature and creating with crochet. I've been blogging for six years, four of those years exclusively about the literary world and during that time awarded Romance Blogger of the Year at the inaugural Festival of Romance. I'm enjoying the freedom of lifestyle blogging and sharing my love of anything that makes life easier! As well as a lover of words, I'm a stationery addict and lifelong learner. I feel passionate about early help for special educational needs, disability and families who are struggling. I'm a member of my local Early Help Operational Board and it's an honour to be working alongside others to instigate change and growth.