Monday, November 7, 2011

National Beheading Day Tribute

Did you know there is a National Beheading Day?  There is.  It’s September 2nd, which isn’t now, but I read a great book that goes great with this holiday and don't want to wait any longer to review it.  It’s The Hangman's Daughter by Oliver Pötzsch.

This book is a historical thriller set in Germany, 1660.  The author is an actual descendent of hangmen and has used facts and factual characters when available to tell this tale.  The book has been translated into English and is very artfully done. 

When a dying boy is pulled from the river with a mark crudely tattooed on his shoulder, hangman Jakob Kuisl is called upon to investigate whether witchcraft is at play in his small Bavarian town.  The plot is gripping and somewhat violent at times (after all, its main character is the Hangman and he has to do some pretty nasty stuff).
I loved this book because it taught me a ton about what day-to-day life was like in the 1600s and what a hangman actually did.  It’s pretty awful and makes you grateful for true justice today.  Back then, the hangman had to torture his victims until they confessed what the judge wanted to hear so they could be sentenced and killed and the matter closed. 

The hangman, though you’d think he’d be unlikeable, is a pretty cool character.  He tries to figure out who really committed the murders in town so he can vindicate the midwife, who's been accused of witchcraft.  If you can stomach reading about some of the torture done, I’d highly suggest reading this book.  The characters are well done and you learn lots about  life in 1600’s Bavaria.  I found it fascinating! 

So check it out as soon as possible, so you’ll be able to do honor to National Beheading Day next year when it comes around.  There couldn’t be a better way to celebrate it (unless you’re French).

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Pamela said...

I actually just finished this book a week or so ago. I loved it!! Could not put it down, read it cover to cover as fast as possible!

Jessica said...

I've heard about this book - after reading your review I really want to read it! It reminds me of the book The Heretic's Daughter - about the daughter of a woman convicted of witchcraft in the 1600s in Salem. I love reading historical fiction and learning about living back in those times.

Heather said...

I love book reviews! I try to do them on my blog once a week. I love books!

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