Jakob Kuisl and his family are back again. His daughter Magdalena and her husband Simon are on a pilgrimage to a monastery to give thanks for the survival of their children. It’s a few years after the last book – Magdalena is a mom now, she’s got two boys who made it through the last plague that swept through the village. And monastery at Andechs is a pilgrimage spot because of a whole mess of religious relics which draw thousands of people from all over Bavaria. The gang heads there for the Festival of the Three Hosts.
After braving horrible storms, lightning, bandits and wolves, Magdalena and Simon get to the monastery. They don’t get to stay there with the other pilgrims, on account of being gross and beneath everyone. So they stay with Jakob’s cousin, the town’s knacker (the guy who skins all the dead animals). They also meet Brother Johannes, who isn’t what he seems to be. In fact, no one at Andechs is what they seem, which leads to all the usual mess that the Kuisls get into.
Some murders happen, and Magdalena writes to her dad to get him to come help. So the Scooby gang is back together, trying to figure out who committed the murders, where the monastery’s weird watchmaker guy went, and other mysteries. They’re also racing against the clock, to save Jakob’s old friend who is being held and tortured for the murders.
The story moves along quickly, with a bunch of twists and turns, plus Potzsch’s usual excellent research and sense of time and place. If you haven’t started this series, I highly recommend it.
I honestly had no idea of what I was getting into when I started The Hangman’s Daughter. But it turned out to be an exciting mystery with several well developed and likable characters set in medieval Bavaria (at least that’s what I got). I’m not a history buff so I don’t know if there were a lot of things out of place in the story, but either way I’ve never let a couple anachronicities bother me. I think that’s why I like Thursday Next so much. Anyway…
Jakob Kuisl is the hangman, Magdalena is his daughter. Simon is the physician’s son, and is one as well but is not highly regarded as such. The story opens with young Jakob vowing to never take the job of his father, the hangman, but that didn’t turn out too well for him. Fast forward to when our events take place. A boy is found in the river and when pulled out a witches symbol emblazoned on his back. The townspeople are in a rage and cry witch, so to suppress an uproar the town’s midwife is imprisoned, since she’s the easiest scapegoat.
Jakob, Simon and a few others do not believe the midwife is guilty, and commit to solving the mystery surrounding the deaths (yeah, more turn up, since witches hate kids and need them for potions. I mean, didn’t you see Hocus Pocus? Geez.), which involves more than they originally had thought.
I thought it was a good read. I was excited in the last few chapters when the mystery was coming to light. And even though I figured out who was behind it (**Spoiler Alert**: it’s totes witches. Not.) the climax of the story wasn’t ruined. I grew to really enjoy the relationship forged between the hangman and the young doctor. If the other two books that came out involve the same cast of characters I may have to check them out. I would recommend.