As a severe famine strikes the small village of Tierkenddorf, Germany in 1507, the superstitious townsfolk begin suspecting one another of witchcraft as the cause of their misfortune. The atmosphere turns ugly with the arrival of Friar Johannes Fuchs, who is convinced the famine is Godís divine punishment. Under his guidance, the townspeople focused their attention on an elderly herbalist who is burned at the stake. As the famine continues unabated, the men take to the woods in an attempt to find food leaving the women to fend for themselves.The women begin eyeing each other with suspicion, including Irmeltrud who bitterly resents having to share meager supplies with her mother-in-law, Gude. Irmeltrud not only kicks Gude out of their hut but also fingers her as a witch. While awaiting trial, Gude watches as the community, led by a man of God, becomes a viperís nest of accusations and heartless behaviors.
Mailmanís ancestors were accused of witchcraft making the subject of this uneven read more personal. The tension created by the twisted ball of survival driven concerns are as credible as they are disturbing. The Friarís role in the community, predictably simply fans the flames of suspicion while furthering his own agenda. It is Gudeís narration that creates an off note as it doesnít always fit the circumstances she finds herself in. This is a dark, emotional read as it exposes a community reduced to an animalistic level in the name of survival.