#BookReview: The Witchfinder’s Sister by Beth Underdown

What’s it about?

1645. When Alice Hopkins’ husband dies in a tragic accident, she returns to the small Essex town of Manningtree, where her brother Matthew still lives.

But home is no longer a place of safety. Matthew has changed, and there are rumours spreading through the town: whispers of witchcraft, and of a great book, in which he is gathering women’s names.

To what lengths will Matthew’s obsession drive him?

And what choice will Alice make, when she finds herself at the very heart of his plan?

My thoughts

I was sent this book by the publisher and it was accompanied by a sprig of dried flowers (which may or may not have been lavender…I’m no expert) which at the time seemed an interesting marketing tool in order to make the book stand out.  However, now that I’ve read the book and understand the significance it seems somewhat weird! Did anyone else feel strange about it or just dismissed it as nonsense?

I’ve never read anything before about the witch trials so have no point of reference but as an historical novel this has a great sense of place and feeling with the language used being that of used in other books I’ve read of this time, and of course mixing a certain amount of fact with fiction it’s an interesting read.

I liked Alice as a character and felt she was ahead of her time; being prepared to stand up to those in power for those in less fortunate positions.  You can’t help but admire her resolve and strength of character even if some her actions were questionable.  When reading books like this it’s hard to get your head round how subordinate women were and how not confirming to the norm would have you being hanged as a witch.  I couldn’t quite grasp what Matthew’s motivation and driving force was: acceptance, revenge, disapproval?  This would make a good book club discussion.

I liked the book, I’m not sure enjoyable would be an appropriate word given some of the books content however.  This has the feel of what Kate Summerscale achieves in her books but on reflection she definitely has the edge but this is still a worthwhile read nonetheless if historical novels are your thing.

Book links: Goodreads | Waterstones | Amazon

Author links: Twitter | Website

Small print for info
Source: ARC – many thanks!
No of pages: 368
Publisher: Viking

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