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Spyderwort Press

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All editions sold worldwide are in English.

The Executioner's Heir: A Novel of Eighteenth-Century France

Susanne Alleyn

Historical Fiction

Charles-Henri Sanson has good looks, a fine education, and plenty of money: everything, in fact, that a stylish young Parisian could ask for. He also has an infamous family name—and he’s trapped in a hideous job that no one wants.

The last thing Charles ever wanted to be was a hangman. But he’s the eldest son of Paris’s most dreaded public official, and in the 1750s, after centuries of superstition, people like him are outcasts. He knows that the executioner’s son must become an executioner himself or starve, for all doors are closed to him; although he loathes the role and would much rather study medicine, society’s fears and prejudices will never let him be anything else. And when disaster strikes, family duty demands that Charles take his father’s place much sooner than he had ever imagined.

Miles outside Paris, high-spirited François de La Barre is the carefree teenager who Charles would like to have been, instead of the somber public servant, bound by the Sansons’ motto of duty and honor, who carries out brutal justice in the king’s name. François proves, though, in the sophisticated, treacherous world of prerevolutionary France, to have a dangerous gift for making enemies . . . and when at last their paths converge, in this true story of destiny and conflicting loyalties, Charles must make a horrifying choice.

Sure to appeal to fans of the “Hangman’s Daughter” tales, The Executioner’s Heir, the true story of a pair of tragic, converging lives, is a darkly atmospheric novel of prerevolutionary France in all its elegance, decadence, and cruelty.

"Charles’s personal crisis and clashing loyalties evoke Greek tragedy, and speak to the issues that will resonate with readers."

Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

"A remarkable book." (Five Stars)

L.J. Roberts, Amazon Top 1000 Reviewer

"A historical novel that hews so close to historical realities in 18th-century Paris that it would serve well on reading lists for history and literature courses. Taking a real family, known to French history scholars, who held the office of “executioner” across generations, she presents a social history that is factual and exciting, allowing readers to enter into the time period while savoring a good story."

Sarah Hanley, Ph.D., Professor Emerita of History and Law, University of Iowa

"Alleyn’s exhaustive research pays off handsomely in well-drawn characters and colorful historical context. In particular, her female characters are refreshing in their range and willingness to defy stereotypes. A sequel would be welcome to this deftly imagined tale of the years before the French Revolution. A well-researched, robust tale featuring an endearing executioner."

Kirkus Reviews

Buy any Spyderwort Press paperback new at Amazon.com and get the Kindle version for 99 cents or free via Amazon's Kindle MatchBook program. This offer is retroactive—if you already bought the paperback new at Amazon, you can still get the free or discounted eBook for your Kindle. Or buy the paperback as a gift for a friend and keep the eBook for yourself.

Trade Paperback and eBook

September 2013

6" x 9", 328 pages

Paperback List: $15.99

eBook List: $3.99

Paper edition:

ISBN-10: 1492306797

ISBN-13: 978-1492306795

ASIN: B00EXPZQBG

My book was a BookWorks Book of the Week selection
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