The Hangman’s Daughter – Book Review

The Hangman’s Daughter is the first novel released by Oliver Potzsch, who is a German screenwriter. It is a brilliantly researched book that features a story of the formative era of world history. Potzsch gives the picture of an era when witches were hunted, and superstitions were the order of the day.

Just as the title suggests, the book’s plot rotates around the main character named Jacob Kuisl, who is the hangman of Schongau. Jacob has to urgently look for the person killing local children and who has also kidnapped his eldest daughter, Magdalena. The residents are overly convinced that Martha Stechlin, the local midwife, is the person behind the killings. This results in her being confronted with sexism and prejudice for her job. However, Jacob knows and maintains that Martha is innocent.

For this, he vows to prove everyone wrong by teaming up with Simon, the physician’s son, to go out and save the kidnapped children. By taking this action, Jacob risks both his life and that of his beloved daughter, although he understands he has no other option other than that. The story concludes with Jacob and Simon fighting off the captors and subsequently rescuing the children. Jacob also stumbles upon a large amount of money which he, afterward uses to buy Simon a few books and saves the rest for himself.

The Hangman’s Daughter is a fascinating book, although it can be a little gory at times. It gives a clearer picture of the brutal period that was between the Middle Ages and the modern world. It also shows the gradual process of civilization, especially where the more educated townsfolk are slowly throwing out the existing superstitions despite the culture still deeply ingrained in the rest of the society.

The book is an excellent read and lives up to a fair share of the hype. You may notice a few examples of odd writing and unnecessary repetition which could be as a result of translation. However, the book is a worth read, and it’s highly recommended for anyone who loves mystery stories.

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