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Estonia, at the end of the seventeenth century: Laurentius arrives in the country, accompanied by a rose-ringed parakeet and hounded by melancholy. He has come to study the latest research – on bloodletting, the evil eye, the position of the soul in the body . . . Meanwhile the poor are being devoured by hunger and the city walls of his university town don’t keep them out; in his feverish sleep he dreams of a king with a high crown, and his waking life is stalked by paranoia.
Compelling, evocative and beautifully written, The Willow King is an unsettling tale of a time of witchcraft, of public executions and public dissections, when science and the supernatural were intertwined.