Penguin presents the unabridged downloadable audiobook edition of The Witchfinder's Sister by Beth Underdown, read by Lucy Brownhill and Roy McMillan.
It's 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?
©2017 Beth Underdown (P)2107 Penguin Audio Books
"Vivid and terrifying." (Paula Hawkins, author of The Girl on the Train)
"A richly told and utterly compelling tale, with shades of Hilary Mantel." (Kate Hamer)
"Anyone who liked Cecilia Ekback's Wolf Winter is going to love this.... [It's] about tiny braveries and small courage...a real David and Goliath story, but far less straightforward." (Natasha Pulley, author of The Watchmaker of Filigree Street)
"A tense, surprising and elegantly-crafted novel. The Witchfinder's Sister is a gripping exploration of the dark and twisted roots of seventeenth-century paranoia." (Ian McGuire, author of The North Water)
"Beth Underdown grips us from the outset and won't let go...at once a feminist parable and an old-fashioned, check-twice-under-the-bed thriller." (Patrick Gale, author of Notes from an Exhibition)
"Beth Underdown cleverly creates a compelling atmosphere of dread and claustrophobia.... Even from the distance of nearly four hundred years, her Matthew Hopkins is a genuinely frightening monster." (Kate Riordan, author of The Girl in the Photograph)
"Superb: dark, terrifying and utterly compelling." (Tracy Borman)
An avid Audible listener for the past two years, it fits in superbly with my busy lifestyle. Love crime and historical novels most.
This is a fantastic read if a somewhat slow burner. I was so glad I stayed with it as it is intensely compelling from half way through the book. Based heavily on true, if shameful, events in English history, The Witchfinders Sister is deeply moving and demonstrates the lack of justice available for women during the 17th Century.
However, this is not a historical tract but a novel and Beth Underdown doesn't fail in her duty to portray all the hallmarks necessary in hooking the reader in and telling a story whilst staying true to the historical research. Not easy to do but expertly accomplished.
The narrator, Lucy Brownhill, does a magnificent job in telling the story. I love her voice and could listen to it all day.
This book was an absolutely fantastic read/listen, but I only read a book once. Period.
I would not want to differentiate between the characters, they were all excellently written and portrayed with an obvious depth of historical research and resultant understanding of the social mores of mid-seventeenth century England.
Not aware of listening to these readers before but both were excellent.
Much of the book was very moving. The powerlessness and victimisation of women due to the bigotry and ignorance current at the time upset me. Nothing has changed in some parts of the world - that thought made me sad too.
A compelling read, the reader is carried along on a whirlwind journey deep into one of the least pleasant chapters of British history. I liked the subtle reference to how all this was about to be repeated in the New World!!
I found this book gripping at times but as it reached a climax it seemed to run out of steam and come to a rapid conclusion - I did wonder whether a section had been cut out. More could have been made to "shock" at the mention what Alice and Grace are going to encounter next, but instead comes across as incidential, which for me left it a little flat.
I was gripped from start to finish. Living locally to many of the places discussed in the book, I have a fascination as to how something so remarkably wrong, was allowed to happen, and how one man, influenced son many. I have researched the true story behind this tale, and find this mixture of fact and fiction intriguing! The imagination behind this book marks this book out as one of the most interesting historical fiction novels I have read.
The performances only enhance this book, and bring each character alive making them truly believable.
Anybody who enjoys historical fiction, will be gripped to this book. It's dark subject matter is a refreshing change and so much more interesting that the usual 'Royal' subject matter of the genre.
Whilst I didn't find this as fabulously evocative as I'd hoped, I'm very clear the author has grafted hard to provide a well-contextualised novel.
Stand-alone, it felt to me like a three-star listen but given the depth and breadth of context I wanted to give a big fat four stars :)
If you're interested at all in the social & cultural origins of those 17thC 'witchcraft' trials, this is worth a read/listen.
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