Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Book Review: Daughters of the Witching Hill – Mary Sharratt

In “Daughters of the Witching Hill”, Mary Sharratt brings history to life in a vivid and wrenching novel of strong women, family, and betrayal inspired by the 1612 Pendle witch trials.

Bess Southerns, an impoverished widow lives with her children in a crumbling old tower in Pendle Forest.  Drawing on Catholic ritual, medicinal herbs, and guidance from her spirit-friend Tibb, Bess heals the sick and foretells the future in exchange for food and drink.  As she ages, she instructs her best friend, Anne, and her granddaughter, Alizon, in her craft.  Though Anne ultimately turns to dark magic, Alizon intends to use her craft for good.  But when a peddler suffers a stroke after exchanging harsh words with Alizon, a local magistrate tricks her into accusing her family and neighbors of witchcraft.  Suspicion and paranoia reach frenzied heights as friends and loved ones turn on one another and the novel draws to an inevitable conclusion.

4/5 stars (really liked it)
The subject of witches, and especially witch trials that took place in the early 1600s really fascinate me.  This book starts out with Bess Southerns as a young woman learning the craft and getting her own familiar, Tibb.  She then goes on to teach her daughter Liza about being a healer but it is not a path for her daughter.  Then her daughter has a daughter named Alizon who Bess believes will take over for her once she is old.  The story is then told from Alizon’s point of view.  Her struggles and denial in being chosen.  The last third of the book was where everything came together.  Alizon, Bess, Annie & Anne are all accused of witchcraft.  The magistrate tricks all of them to accuse each other.  I loved the ending of this book as well as the writing style of the author.  I will definitely be checking out any other books written by her.

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