Thursday, August 28, 2008

Company of Liars-Karen Maitland

Company of Liars
Karen Maitland
Delacorte, Oct 2008, $24.00
ISBN 9780385341691

In 1348 England, many believe the devil is everywhere as the plague has killed numerous people and torrential storms seem endless. Hope is gone whether one is aristocratic or peasant as are crops adding to the vicious cycle of death.

Nine desperate travelers with no connection except fear band together on a journey to the south where it is reported the devil has not landed. As they make their way across a pestilent land, none reveal who they are especially their most precious deadly secret yet each has a tale to tell. Increasingly it appears none will make their destination and if they do are they bringing the devil’s Black Plague with them.

With obvious homage to the Canterbury Tales, Karen Maitland paints a dark grim historical as the nine travelers expect death to greet them every step of the way. The story line offers no hope except for the Grim Reaper and undertakers as England is hammered by the pandemic plague and horrific weather making life for the survivors miserable as no one is safe from pestilence, famine, and exposure. Not an easy read as every page oozes with despondency and death, the COMPANY OF LIARS is a powerful look through he travelers at the year England almost died.

Harriet Klausner

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