Jakob Kuisl is the hangman of a small town called Schongau in Germany. The year is 1660, the era where women are accused for witchcraft and are executed as such. One day a boy is found drowned in a river with a very crude and confusing tattoo etched onto his skin. The town believes that again this is the workings of a witch and they arrest a woman who is likely to have done this crime. But more children are dying and the woman is behind bars. As the town quickly descends into chaos, Jakob Kuisl is chosen to decide who is really doing this. But he's not doing it alone. Bringing with him Simon, a young university educated son of a physician and his daughter Magdelena, they work together to try and reason who is responsible for these deaths.
At a glance it's a thriller, filled with totally scary moments and scenes which are completely spine chilling, but at the heart of it, it's also a love story. What is also really interesting is that this is based on real life events. The story itself is fictional but there really was a Jakob Kuisl who was the town's local executioner at the time. This means that he would have been hanging "witches". Only, his name was Fritz Kuisl, instead of Jakob. Fritz is actually one of Oliver Pötzch's ancestors and it is through some digging through his own history which Oliver has been able to make this book which I think is really amazing.
So what did I really think? I really enjoyed this story. As with any other story, I generally see what the first fifty pages of a book is like and if it is good, then I will finish the book. With The Hangman's Daughter, I bent the rules slightly. At the beginning, the writing was quite slow for me to read. There was so much description that it was hard to keep reading for me. However, the actual storyline kept me going so I kept reading and by the time I reached page seventy of the book, I knew that I was going to finish it and by that time, I got accustomed to the author's writing style.
The story is brilliant and there were some parts I had to pause and watch something funny so that I could distract myself from the scary scenes which are in this book. I would say it was one of the scariest reads I have braved to read but it has really persuaded me to continue reading scary stories. I thought the characters were brilliantly described and you could really relate to Jakob and how hard it is being a hangman. I think this was because Oliver did so much research into his relative's life that it made the characters stand out.
I'm giving this book a four star rating. It would have been five if I had liked the writing style more but apart from that it is a brilliant read and a really unique story so if you're in need of a book that gives you goosebumps or a book unlike no other, then this is the book for you!
Photo from Goodreads.
This book was reviewed by regular reviewer, Lucy, get to know her here!