ARC Review: The Witchfinder’s Sister – Beth Underdown



Release Date: 2nd March 2017
Publisher: Viking
Pages: 400
Find It: Amazon. Goodreads.

Without a doubt one of my favourite books of 2017 – and it’s only February!

Synopsis:

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?

Review:

I found it pretty hard to put my thoughts on The Witchfinder’s Sister into coherent sentences. It was a wonderful read – beautifully written and at times it scared the **** out of me.

The book follows the story of Alice, who after the death of her husband has to return to her childhood home, and live with her brother Matthew. She’s a really fascinating protagonist, a complex and flawed person and I loved seeing the story develop from her perspective. She’s likeable, she attempts to help those accused of witchcraft and those in the household that have to work for her brother.

The plot is well put together, encompassing Alice and her unexpected pregnancy, her relationship with her brother, and the trials of the women accused of witchcraft. This book does a fantastic job of bringing the fascinating history of Manningtree to life. After I’d finished reading the book I found myself spending a great deal of time on Google, just reading the history surrounding Matthew and Alice Hopkins. I found it particularly astonishing that women could be tried as witches for the most menial things, and The Witchfinder’s Sister certainly highlights that. It’s a stunning debut and one that I’m definitely going to read again.

The most compelling thing about this book is the atmosphere. The claustrophobic nature of Alice’s life – she has nowhere to go and no one to turn to regarding her brother –  makes for a very unsettling energy within the story. Combining this with the eerie moments where Alice and Matthew aren’t quite sure what they’re witnessing, makes for one dark and intense atmosphere. A couple of times I had to put the book down or risk scaring myself silly (and then of course cave and pick it back up, because I had to know what was coming next.)  The writing is rich and compelling, you’ll absolutely find yourself reading large chunks of it at a time.

This is definitely going to be on my top reads of 2017. It’s a fascinating story and I have already had it pinched lent it to my mum because I talked about it so much. If you’re a fan of historical fiction, this is absolutely a book you’ve got to read. If you love dark and eerie stories, make this the top of your buying list.


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2 thoughts on “ARC Review: The Witchfinder’s Sister – Beth Underdown

  • crimeworm

    I loved it too! Glad I wasn’t the only one. Notice how they picked on widows, or women with no sons, so no-one to stick up for them – and the mentally ill and physically disabled got it worst. Fab ending, vis-à-vis Alice and Matthew, and the last sentence was spine-chilling!