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The Hangman's Daughter - a Review
A hangman was the person who had the horrific job of torturing people to get confessions out of them. It was also his job to perform executions. This job was so stressful that most hangmen were very heavy drinkers, especially right before torturing or executing someone.
The interrogations were awful and the hangman had to perform them, even if he knew the person had been unjustly accused. Thumbscrews were used, as well as red-hot pincers. Or the person who was to be interrogated would have their hands tied together and be hung from the ceiling with boulders attached to their feet. Many times the person would pass out from pain or confess just to stop the pain. If there was no confession, the physician would be called in to heal the person just so they could be tortured more and then put to death.
The hangman and his family were people that others just didn't associate with. His children would marry the children of other hangmen. The hangman's daughter, Magdalena, falls in love with the physician's son and his love is forbidden her. This very independent and intelligent young lady has some serious issues with the way hangmen and their families are looked upon.
This little community in 17th-century Bavaria needs the help of Jakob Kuisl, their current hangman, whether they realize it or not. Their children are being murdered. Some have suggested that the devil is roaming their streets. Suspicions almost immediately land upon Martha Stechlin, the midwife. She is rumored to also be a witch who was teaching the dark arts to the murdered children. Each of the murdered children has the mark of the witch, or the devil's sign, on them.
The townspeople come out like crazy accusing the midwife of casting spells on them or cursing them in some way. Sadly, she has delivered many of the children of the ones who accuse her. She was even the one who delivered the hangman's chldren, but he doesn't believe her to be guilty of any crime. And he fights to prove her innocence. Is he right in thinking her to be wrongly accused? Has the midwife deceived him? Is she the one behind the murders of these children? Or is there something else going on?
In The Hangman's Daughter, by Oliver Pötzsch, the reader goes on an exciting journey through the times when people were unjustly accused of practicing the dark arts, a time when people were tortured mercilessly to get them to confess to whatever crime they were accused of, a time when superstitions ran rampant. This book is a great read that became even better once I found out that the author is an actual descendant of the famous Bavarian hangman, Jakob Kuisl.
I bought my own copy of this book to read and review. If you would like to read this historical fiction novel yourself, I have provided a link to Amazon below.
Content copyright © 2013 by Lisa Binion. All rights reserved.
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