Read The Raven's Head Online

Authors: Karen Maitland

The Raven's Head


Copyright © 2015 Karen Maitland


The right of Karen Maitland to be identified as the Author of
the Work has been asserted by her in accordance with the
Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.


Apart from any use permitted under UK copyright law, this publication may only be reproduced, stored, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means, with prior permission in writing of the publishers or, in the case of reprographic production, in accordance with the terms of licences issued by the Copyright Licensing Agency.


This Ebook edition was first published by Headline Publishing Group in 2015


All characters in this publication – apart from the obvious historical figures – are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.


Cataloguing in Publication Data is available from the British Library


eISBN: 978 1 4722 1507 9



An Hachette UK Company

338 Euston Road

London NW1 3BH



Title Page

Copyright Page

About Karen Maitland

Praise for Karen Maitland

About the book

Also by Karen Maitland



Cast of Characters



Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Chapter 38

Chapter 39

Chapter 40

Chapter 41

Chapter 42

Chapter 43

Chapter 44

Chapter 45

Chapter 46

Chapter 47

Chapter 48

Chapter 49

Chapter 50

Chapter 51

Chapter 52

Chapter 53

Chapter 54

Chapter 55

Chapter 56

Chapter 57

Chapter 58

Chapter 59

Chapter 60



Historical Notes


About Karen Maitland

© John C. Gibson


Karen Maitland travelled and worked in many parts of the United Kingdom before settling for several years in the beautiful medieval city of Lincoln, an inspiration for her writing. She is the author of
The White Room
Company of Liars
The Owl Killers
The Gallows Curse
The Falcons of Fire and Ice
The Vanishing Witch
. She has recently relocated to a life of rural bliss in Devon.

Acclaim for Karen Maitland:

Step back in time with Maitland’s dark tales


‘Karen Maitland neatly captures the spirit of primitive superstition’
Daily Express


‘Passion and peril. A compelling blend of historical grit and supernatural twists’
Daily Mail
The Falcons of Fire and Ice


‘A ripping tale . . . full of colour and detail’
Daily Telegraph
The Gallows Curse


‘Scarily good. Imagine
The Wicker Man
crossed with
The Birds’ Marie Claire
The Owl Killers


‘Glorious . . . a thrillingly horrible vision of the Dark Ages’
The Owl Killers


‘Combines the storytelling traditions of
The Canterbury Tales
with the supernatural suspense of Mosse’s
in this atmospheric tale of treachery and magic’
Marie Claire
Company of Liars


‘A richly evocative page-turner which brings to life a lost and terrible period of British history, with a disturbing final twist worthy of a master of the spine-tingler, such as Henry James’
Daily Express
Company of Liars

About the book

Never trust your secrets to a Raven, when you are not its true master . . .


The Raven is waiting.


France, 1224. Vincent stumbles upon a secret that could destroy his master and a naive attempt at blackmail leaves him on the run and in possession of a silver raven’s head.


The Raven is coming.


Vincent escapes to England but every attempt to sell the raven’s head fails and instead he makes his way from town to town, selling lies and stories to line his purse.


The Raven is here.


He hears of a Baron, a man whose reputation should make him a buyer for the head . . . or a story. Vincent demands an audience with Lord Sylvain, but it might be the last demand he makes. It doesn’t pay to deal with an Alchemist.


Some might think the Raven was seeking passage home.

By Karen Maitland

The White Room

Company of Liars

The Owl Killers

The Gallows Curse

The Falcons of Fire and Ice

The Vanishing Witch

And know that the head of the art is the raven who flies without wings in the darkness and in the brightness of the day: in the bitterness that is in its throat the nigredo, the blackest of black, will be found.


Artis aurif,
1610 edition


Take some ‘stone’. Divide it into four parts – air, fire, earth and water. I am unable to discover that it can be done in any way other than the following. A human being lives, dies, and depends upon blood. Likewise the stone. Consequently they say that this stone is a living stone, and therefore because there is no higher soul than a human being, they take the stone of a human.


Avicenna, a Persian physician (AD 980–1037)


One for sorrow

Two for mirth

Three for a funeral

Four for a birth

Five for heaven

Six for hell

The seventh takes your soul for the Devil to sell.


One of several versions of a traditional rhyme for counting magpies, known as witch birds

Cast of Characters



– an under-forester

– Hudde’s wife

– their five-year-old son

– one of Wilky’s older brothers

– the dog




– seventeen-year-old apprentice to Gaspard

– aged scribe and librarian in the household of Philippe

Philippe, Le Comte de Lingones
– wealthy nobleman in the French court of King Louis VIII

Amée, La Comtesse de Lingones
– Philippe’s daughter

– Philippe’s deceased great-grandfather

– Philippe’s deceased great-grandmother

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