The Vanishing Witch by Karen Maitland


“The Vanishing Witch” is the third Karen Maitland novel that I’ve read and I have to say, I was not disappointed.

This latest offering is set in England, in 1380 – 1381 and encompasses the upheaval and unrest before and during the Peasants’ Revolt. These events have an enormous impact on the lives of the characters in this story, whether they are members of the wealthy merchant class, or the poorest of the poor. This time setting is an integral part of the plot and is an aspect where Karen Maitland excels. For me, this is the most memorable part of this novel!

The plot involves the Widow Caitlin, her children and their successful efforts to take over the lives of wool merchant, Robert of Bassingham and his family. The question is does the widow use only her feminine charms, or is witchcraft being employed as well? Is she the only one who could be accused of being a witch, or is her young daughter, Leonie, also adept at the black arts? These are questions that we ask ourselves throughout this tale. Another family struggling with life at this time is that of Gunther, the boatman. The crippling Poll Tax is set to destroy any life the family has. Involvement in the march to London and the rebellion against the establishment, bring Gunther into close contact with Robert. This has repercussions for both families.

Although there were times when I think the pace was not quite right, I always wanted to carry on reading “The Vanishing Witch”. I would recommend this to all who enjoy historical novels, with a supernatural twist. Karen Maitland is certainly a weaver of interesting stories!

I would like to thank NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book free of charge, in return for my honest review.

About the Author:


Karen Maitland has recently moved to the wonderful county of Devon and has a doctorate in psycholinguists. She is fascinated by the myth and magic of the Middle Ages, which she draws on for her novels. She experienced the medieval lifestyle for real, when she worked for eighteen months in a rural village in Nigeria, living without electricity, plumbing or sanitation.

Her first medieval thriller was ‘Company of Liars’, was set at the time of the Black Death in 1348. This was followed by ‘The Owl Killers’, about the beguinages, the medieval cities of women. ‘The Gallows Curse’ is set in the reign of bad King John and ‘Falcons of Fire and Ice’, which is a dark thriller, set in Portugal during the Inquisition and Iceland at the time of the Reformation. She is published by Michael Joseph/Penguin.

Karen is also one of six historical crime writers known as the Medieval Murderers – Philip Gooden, Susannah Gregory, Michael Jecks, Bernard Knight and Ian Morson – who together write an annual joint murder-mystery novel, including ‘The Sacred Stone’, ‘Hill of Bones’ and ‘The First Murder’ published by Simon & Schuster.



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