Becky’s Thirty-Third Book Review: “The Hangman’s Daughter” by Oliver Pötzsch

I just finished reading the exciting historical novel by Oliver Pötzsch “The Hangman’s Daughter”. The book was very entertaining and hard to put down. Pötzsch captivates the audience with his tale that is told from a different perspective. Obviously, the book involves executioners. There are a few main characters, the hangman Jakob Kuisl being one of them. His daughter Magdalena is another as is the physician’s son Simon Fronwieser.

After a prologue which features Jakob Kuisl as a child, the book begins thirty-five years later. About five pages into the first chapter a child is found barely alive. This is a catalyst for the events that occur within a matter of days. All of a sudden, there is an all out witch hunt and the only people who believe that the woman accused is innocent is the hangman and the physician’s son. Jakob Kuisl and Simon Fronwieser together rush to solve the crime before the town collapses in on itself. More and more tragedies occur, each more strange than the next. The horrific witch hunt that had occurred in the past where dozens of women lost their lives is threatening to repeat itself.

Oliver Pötzsch tells his story which features the hangman as the ‘good guy’ which is not how one usually thinks of someone who makes their living by taking others lives. The book was really entertaining, a page-turner to the very end. Once the book was over there was a ‘note from the author’ where I learned that the book that I just finished and thought was a fictional work was in fact a historical novel based on the author’s own family. Oliver Pötzsch comes from a long line of executioners and him describing the facts surrounding his family history was just really interesting to me.

Would I recommend this book? Yes, it was a great piece of work and I believe it would appeal to many audiences. There was some violence, but overall it wasn’t too much. Definitely worth reading!


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