I just finished The Hangman’s Daughter by Oliver Potzsch. I don’t normally read many historicals, this one takes place in central Europe in the mid-1600s. My previous experience with historicals is mostly from Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series. I didn’t necessarily think that Potzsch painted as grand a picture as Gabaldon does. He focused a lot on sanitary conditions, there was a lot of discussion of chamber pots and where they were being emptied. But, there was a lot of fun discussion about medical science, or lack thereof in the mid-1600s. It brought back a lot of what I learned of the history of human anatomy when I took anatomy class a few years ago. The fact that universities were teaching the humours and from texts written by ancient Greeks, and others that didn’t rely on human dissection to understand how the body works blows my mind.
At the end of the book is an author’s note that talks about how the author is related to the Kuisel family, who were real well-known executioners. It was interesting to read about his inspirations for the book and how much was real.
I wonder a little why the book was called The Hangman’s Daughter. There were really three main characters, and the hangman’s daughter really had a small part. The story revolves around the murder of three children in the village and the resulting hysteria that spreads through the town. When a woman is arrested on suspicion of witchcraft, the terrible things happening in town don’t get better, they get worse.It is up to the hangman and the young doctor in town to figure out what is really going on.
Overall I enjoyed the book, it was a good story, the characters were interesting and the historical detail was interesting. I would recommend it as a mystery, although there weren’t too many twists in the mystery.
I’m going to give The Hangman’s Daughter by Oliver Potzsch, 3 bookmarks.