Maitland usually uses an unusual and unique narrative style. In The Company of Liars, we do not truly discover who the narrator really is until the end of the book and The Owl Killers switches between five very different narrators resulting in various viewpoints of the story. The Gallows Curse is strangely narrated by a mandrake (a legendary plant with a body attached to the roots, which screams when ripped from the ground.) To be honest, I felt this didn't work very well as we are only reminded of the narrator a few times throughout the book and it doesn't feel like a true 'character'.
I did like the characters of Elena and Raffe, but not as much as some of the characters in Maitland's previous novels. There are some controversial subjects covered and as usual do not be expecting a happy ending! Be warned - there are some disturbing and grotesque scenes, certainly not for the faint-hearted!
The Gallows Curse is full of colourful characters and violent deeds, plus an insight in to Medieval beliefs. Each chapter begins with an extract from 'The Mandrake's Herbal' with an explanation of the meaning of various ingredients from cabbage to mistletoe. The exclusive Waterstones edition I have also has an extra section at the end which reveals more behind the dark tales with information on pregnancy, holy relics, wolves and werewolves and corpses at crossroads. There are references to all of Maitland's novels so I definitely recommend this edition if you would like to know more. There is also an extract from her new novel Falcons of Fire and Ice which is released later this summer...
Watch Karen Maitland talking about The Gallow's Curse below and for more information about her books and Medieval myth and magic log on to www.karenmaitland.com