Monday, June 14, 2010

Review: Daughters of the Witching Hill

Daughters of the Witching Hill Daughters of the Witching Hill 
by Mary Sharratt

Goodreads Overview: 
Set in Lancashire, England, during the infamous witch trials of 1612, Daughters of the Witching Hill reveals the true story of Bess Southerns, aka Old Demdike, cunning woman, healer and the most notorious of the Pendle Witches, and of Alizon Device, her granddaughter, struggling to come to terms with her family’s troubling legacy. Though the name of the Pendle Witches lives on, few know the hard-hitting details of the witch-hunt which tore apart a community. Set in an era of religious intolerance, political strife, suspicion and social inequality, this haunting story of strong women and family love and betrayal is more relevant than ever.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Although I rather enjoy historical fiction, I haven't read a great deal about this time period. For some reason, I tend to gravitate towards later years in history. So, I was interested in giving this novel a read since it sounded like a really interesting story.

It took me awhile to get into the book but once I began to get into it, it was fantastic. I think that it took me some time to warm up to the period of history and getting the 'lay of the land' with the novel. But, once I was able to get there, it grabbed me and didn't let go. The characters were fantastic and that is what really made the book for me. The characters took awhile to warm up to but once I did I was amazed at just how much I came to care for them.

That time in history is just fascinating and this novel made it come alive for me. I felt as if the novel gave me a view into a world that was previously unknown to me. I felt as if I was walking in that forest with these characters. I also love that this story was based on historical fact. It came right from history and Mary Sharratt really made those events come alive in the novel. (I also love that she made a note at the end about the real events and how she did/did not change things. I love this kind of insider information and it really helped me to appreciate what Ms. Sharratt did with this novel.

Mary Sharratt has ultimately created a vivid story that is rich with period detail and social context. The writing in the novel is polished and refined. The social and political context of the story is what makes it so interesting. For me, that is what I most enjoyed about this particular story. It made a very dark time in history come alive for me and made me think about how the issues that affected the characters in this novel are still affecting people today but in a different context.

It is not a happy novel. It deals with accusations of witchcraft, religious persecution, social standing and the role of women in that time of history. But, in the end, I learned a great deal and it made me think. All while entertaining me immensely. This is an excellent piece of historical fiction that I definitely recommend.

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