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The Witchfinder's Sister by Beth Underdown

The Witchfinder's Sister (edition 2017)

by Beth Underdown (Author)

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7416162,398 (3.4)5
Title:The Witchfinder's Sister
Authors:Beth Underdown (Author)
Info:Penguin (2017), 361 pages
Collections:Your library, Read, Read in 2017, Historical Fiction, NetGalley
Tags:Historical Fiction

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The Witchfinder's Sister by Beth Underdown



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I have always had an interest in the Salem witch trials. As is stated the historical information about Matthew Hopkins is limited to fragments of surviving records, so this is mostly a creative historical fiction which is very well written weaving in the known facts into a story. I was captivated from the first chapter and experienced the tragic story as it unfolded from his sister's perspective. I also like how the author tried to explain reasoning behind Matthew's actions as well as also leave some mysterious events that could not be explained leaving some questions. While there may have been some logical explanation, given the time period, would have caused suspicions and fear. ( )
  marysneedle | Jun 8, 2017 |
This book starts off slow as Beth Underdown is gradually introducing you to her book but it becomes a very compelling bit of historical fiction with a beguiling conclusion that more than made up for the beginning. Despite the subject matter this is not a fantasy novel about wicked witches but rather a captivating examination of the oppression of women and how they were treated as second class citizens during the 17the century.

It’s a beautifully written, well researched and entertaining story even if the subject matter isn’t something that will give you the warm fuzzies. There are plenty of twists that will keep you glued to the pages particularly since her characters are complex, full of depth and interesting thanks to Underdown’s well-rounded character development. She created a strong female protagonist encased in a world that is decidedly anti-female which made me very glad I live in the 21st century.

Thanks to Underdown’s descriptive writing I felt as if I was actually there and could picture what everything looked like during this time period. Her research proved itself in the writing making you move up and down the emotional spectrum from intrigued to horrified at what her characters were put through.

I found it to be engaging and a fresh approach to a shameful part of human history. If you’re into historical novels then this deserves a chance.
( )
  ttsheehan | Jun 5, 2017 |
Reached Chapter 11 and realized that I had almost no interest in the characters. It might be something I pick up down the road but it doesn't seem likely. ( )
  AliceaP | May 19, 2017 |
DNF at 70%. I pushed myself to get this far in this book but I just can't force myself to finish it. The book starts out great with, what seemed to be, the main character being imprisoned and the story being told from her POV of the events that led up to that. Unfortunately, after that - nothing really happens. Historically that was such an implosive time with fear and suspicion coming from everywhere, but in this book none of that came through. ( )
  Kathl33n | May 9, 2017 |
3.5 Manningtree, the Essex witch trials, in the two years between 1645 and 1647, hundreds of women were investigated and hanged as witches. Matthew Stafford was called the witch finder, a man who for unknown reasons pursued across many counties all rumors and gossip of supposed witches. In this novel the author attempts to give us a reason why Stafford acted and believed as he did.

Our narrator is Eliza, Matthew's sited, who has returned to Manningtree, after the death of her husband, a marriage Matthew has heartedly disapproved of, pregnant and without means. She will, unwillingly, become embroiled in Matthew's continuous and unceasing hunt for witches. Despite her efforts to change Matthew's course, she is largely unsuccessful but she does discover many secrets kept within her family.

This was a dark time and it is to be expected that this is a very dark book. The atmosphere is deftly done, authentic seeming to the period. What was done to these women by those who were either jealous, coveted their goods, or just by fear, was horrific. So many were elderly, without family and all were powerless against the witchhunter, who was bent on finding evidence in whatever way possible. A hard book to read because we know this really happened and few attempted to stop it.
The author takes us to the end of Matthew's life, which fortunately wasn't very long.

An author's note is included telling us what was true or not and provides details of her research. The ending of the book was both ironic and somehow fitting. Quite well done.

ARC from publisher. ( )
1 vote Beamis12 | May 7, 2017 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0399179143, Hardcover)

A thrilling debut novel, a literary historical thriller based on the devastating witch hunts in 1640s England conducted by “Witchfinder General” Matthew Hopkins—for readers of Sarah Waters and Katherine Howe.
Before Salem, there was Manningtree. . . .
“This summer, my brother Matthew set himself to killing women, but without ever once breaking the law.”
Essex, England, 1645. With a heavy heart, Alice Hopkins returns to the small town she grew up in. Widowed, with child, and without prospects, she is forced to find refuge at the house of her younger brother, Matthew. In the five years she has been gone, the boy she knew has become a man of influence and wealth—but more has changed than merely his fortunes. Alice fears that even as the cruel burns of a childhood accident still mark his face, something terrible has scarred Matthew’s soul.
There is a new darkness in the town, too—frightened whispers are stirring in the streets, and Alice’s blood runs cold with dread when she discovers that Matthew is a ruthless hunter of suspected witches. Torn between devotion to her brother and horror at what he’s become, Alice is desperate to intervene—and deathly afraid of the consequences. But as Matthew’s reign of terror spreads, Alice must choose between her safety and her soul.
Alone and surrounded by suspicious eyes, Alice seeks out the fuel firing her brother’s brutal mission—and is drawn into the Hopkins family’s past. There she finds secrets nested within secrets: and at their heart, the poisonous truth. Only by putting her own life and liberty in peril can she defeat this darkest of evils—before more innocent women are forced to the gallows.
Inspired by the real-life story of notorious “Witchfinder General” Matthew Hopkins, Beth Underdown’s thrilling debut novel blends spellbinding history with harrowing storytelling for a truly haunting reading experience.

(retrieved from Amazon Wed, 23 Nov 2016 23:26:24 -0500)

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