A big welcome today to Beth Underdown and the blog tour for her novel, The Witchfinder’s Sister which is due to be released by Viking tomorrow (2nd March 2017.)
‘The number of women my brother Matthew killed, so far as I can reckon it, is one hundred and six…’
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?
Based on the true story of the man known as the Witchfinder General, this exquisitely rendered novel transports you to a time and place almost unimaginable, where survival might mean betraying those closest to you, and danger lurks outside every door.
Alice has just lost her husband. With little option available to her and nowhere else to go, she has to return to the home of her brother, Matthew Hopkins, ‘the Witchfinder General.’
Many rumours are circulating about Matthew’s conduct. Alice doesn’t want to believe her brother is capable of these things. The longer she is around her brother, the harder it is to avoid the feeling that the rumours are true.
It was easy to sympathise with Alice. She is governed by her circumstances and isn’t really respected by the men around her. Most of all, her brother.
The same could not be said for Matthew. He is very vengeful. He is not a nice man. I very rarely wholly dislike a character but I did in this case. There was nothing about him that was redeemable to me.
This book is dark and in places it was very hard to read. The setting and atmosphere for the novel is set very well by the author.
It’s an interesting ‘suggestion’ of history. I have no doubt that this could be just as plausible an account of what went on and how women were treated at this time; accused of being a witch sounds to me like a convenient excuse to keep women quiet and afraid. Women were not given a lot of choices.
If you have any interest in history (as I do,) then I think you would like this book.
I liked it. I am not sure why I liked it. The subject matter is not exactly a happy one. The style of writing is that of a diary account; Alice’s diary to be exact. This helped draw me in and I cared about Alice and what became of her.
The Witchfinder’s Sister is a great debut novel. I look forward to reading more from Beth Underdown.
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.
For more information on Beth, visit her website: http://www.bethunderdown.co.uk