The Owl Killers
By Karen Maitland
(Bantam, Paperback, 9780440244431, 528pp.)
Publication Date: July 27, 2010
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In 1321, the English town of Ulewic teeters between survival and destruction, faith and doubt, God and demons. Against this intense backdrop, a group of women have formed a beguinage, a self-sustaining community of women. Led by the strong-willed Servant Martha, these women are committed to a code of celibacy and prayer, hard work and charity that is unsanctioned by the all-powerful church. Still, the villagers have come to rely on this remarkable group of women for their very lives. And seeking shelter among them now is the youngest daughter of Ulewic’s lord, a man who holds power over them all.
But when a series of natural calamities strikes, the beguinage’s enemies make their move, stirring the superstitious villagers with dark rumors of unspeakable depravities and unleashing upon the defiant all-female community the full force of their vengeance in the terrifying form of the Owl Killers. Men cloaked in masks and secrecy, ruling with violence and intimidation—the Owl Killers draw battle lines. In this village ravaged by flood and disease, the women of the beguinage must draw upon their deepest strength if they are to overcome the raging storm of long-held secrets and shattering lies.
Karen Maitland has a doctorate in psycholinguistics. She has traveled and worked in many parts of the world, from the Arctic Circle to Africa, before finally settling in the medieval city of Lincoln in England. Her British debut novel, The White Room, was short-listed for the Authors’ Club of Great Britain Best First Novel Award. The acclaimed author of Company of Liars, she is at work on her next novel.
“Maitland is a marvellous storyteller. . . . The Owl Killers is absolutely her best so far.” —Globe and Mail
“This powerful, enthralling story of treachery and magic is multilayered, atmospheric, and complex.”—Tucson Citizen
“Highly recommended . . . taut, compelling.”—Historical Novel Society
“Gripping . . . a real page-turner.” —Library Journal