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Witchfinder's Sister - review

Beth has really achieved something special, for a debut this is seriously assured. 

Yes it is harrowing, but compulsive too.

The mix of semi hypnotic obedience with whims of the self made Witch Finder Matthew Hopkins is both a study of dominance and submission as also a view of a class system and sexism at it's worst.

Beth goes into the psyche of so many characters and they really do breath as she writes. From menial serving girls to townsmen of note but no values and especially our heroine the lost and yet so resilient Alice, the grieving widow and sister of Hopkins. She returns to Manningtree and soon finds that her aloof and puritanical brother has discovered witchcraft is rife, she knows this is hogwash, but somehow it pervades.

Piecing real history into a narrative of such depth is a real achievement, she must have had hours of 'fun' with the thees and wherefores of the time!

The growing dread and fear builds as we read, the other factor is the sheer horror of family turning against each other and allowing their words to condemn innocent women to hang or worse...

Sadly things like school only tell us the surface facts, perhaps this is something we should address, I seem to recall being told that this Hopkins did something necessary, he didn't... he became as all corrupted by their power a beast, he felt all powerful and knew nothing and yet was 'allowed' to murder 106 women... Supported by the apparently good of society...

I don't like saying much about plot in my brief reviews, I just want folks to get a feel for whether they can trust me and read a book...

It is not for the squeamish, but it is not gratuitous, it is astonishingly honest description and compelling.

There really is so much history we should investigate more, I also read Katherine Clements new book, Coffin Path which is set roughly in the same period and is equally brilliant.

Beth and Katherine are with us at Bolton Central Library on Mon 18th June 6.30pm do come and listen and maybe buy a book...

Coffin Path is £12.99 rrp is £17.99
The 2 paperbacks by Katherine are £6 rrp £7.99 as is Witchfinder's Sister