Monday, May 15, 2017

Book Review: The Witchfinder's Sister by Beth Underdown

Hi all,

You had me at 'witch'! I love tales of witches and witchcraft in any form so when I saw this debut novel by Beth Underdown, I immediately wanted to read it. And what a great read it was! Here is more about the novel and my review.
 
 
 
The Witchfinder’s Sister
Beth Underdown

 

 

Book Description:

Before Salem, there was Manningtree. . . .

“This summer, my brother Matthew set himself to killing women, but without ever once breaking the law.”

Essex, England, 1645. With a heavy heart, Alice Hopkins returns to the small town she grew up in. Widowed, with child, and without prospects, she is forced to find refuge at the house of her younger brother, Matthew. In the five years she has been gone, the boy she knew has become a man of influence and wealth—but more has changed than merely his fortunes. Alice fears that even as the cruel burns of a childhood accident still mark his face, something terrible has scarred Matthew’s soul.
 
There is a new darkness in the town, too—frightened whispers are stirring in the streets, and Alice’s blood runs cold with dread when she discovers that Matthew is a ruthless hunter of suspected witches. Torn between devotion to her brother and horror at what he’s become, Alice is desperate to intervene—and deathly afraid of the consequences. But as Matthew’s reign of terror spreads, Alice must choose between her safety and her soul.

Alone and surrounded by suspicious eyes, Alice seeks out the fuel firing her brother’s brutal mission—and is drawn into the Hopkins family’s past. There she finds secrets nested within secrets: and at their heart, the poisonous truth. Only by putting her own life and liberty in peril can she defeat this darkest of evils—before more innocent women are forced to the gallows.

Inspired by the real-life story of notorious “Witchfinder General” Matthew Hopkins, Beth Underdown’s thrilling debut novel blends spellbinding history with harrowing storytelling for a truly haunting reading experience.

 

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My 5-Star Review:

I love when an author mixes historical fact with fiction which is exactly what author Beth Underdown has done in her debut novel, The Witchfinder’s Sister.

In Essex, England, in the year 1645, a man by the name of Matthew Hopkins, backed by the rich men in the community, begins a campaign to rid the area of supposed witches. If a child dies of fever, or crops are destroyed, or a farmer’s cow dies, people become suspicious and blame it on witchcraft. They round up widowed or elderly woman and blame their misfortune on them. It is Matthew’s job to prove or disprove that each woman is a witch.

What is absolutely terrifying about this scenario is that it is actual fact. This happened. What is fascinating is the way Ms. Underdown takes this true story and creates characters around it to fill in the details that are not know and create an intriguing, gripping tale. Believe me, you won’t want to put this one down!

If you love Paula Brackston and Alice Hoffman novels, you are going to love this one.

(I received a complimentary copy of this novel from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for my honest review.)

 

About the Author:

Beth Underdown was born in Rochdale in 1987. She studied at the University of York and then the University of Manchester, where she is now a Lecturer in Creative Writing.

The Witchfinder’s Sister is her first novel, and is out with Viking in the UK and Ballantine in the US in Spring 2017. The book is based on the life of the 1640s witch finder Matthew Hopkins, whom she first came across while reading a book about seventeenth-century midwifery. As you do.

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