The Witchfinder’s Sister is a book that has a story set in the past (17th Century to be exact) and focuses on a woman who has returned to her place of birth after a tragedy kills her husband. Here she is reunited with her brother, but he’s changed. How and why exactly is a mystery until you delve into this 400 page book.
Based around witch hunts and 1600’s superstition, The Witchfinder’s Sister allows for smooth immersion into the story and really makes the reader feel as though they’re watching through the main character’s eyes. The woman who we travel with on this journey of exploration and understanding is called Alice Hopkins, and it is her brother who we come to learn has a terrible role in the witch hunts. Upon reading further on, I found that the story was incredibly saddening and bizarre because of how they misunderstood simple little things like having moles and all of that. The thought processes of people back then really scared me, therefore reading how Alice manages to cope under her brother’s role and his superstition of her was mind-blowing. It made me thankful that I live in an age where they don’t think owning a black cat means you’re a witch.
Additionally, the whole pacing suited the story as it was never rushed. It took its time telling Alice’s experiences with her brother and his work and I found this good for building up suspense.
Plot Rating: 4 out of 4 Stars
As mentioned before, we follow Alice Hopkins within this novel and find out what she thinks and does about her brother’s involvement in witch hunting and witch trials. To be honest, I had no immediate opinions about Alice at the start because she hadn’t done anything that immediately stuck out for me, but as I read on I began to really like her because she wasn’t as mad as the people in her brother’s village. She had common sense and a tough personality which I found great for a lady of the 17th Century. She wanted to show that superstition about witches was nonsense and stop the invasion of privacy on innocent women, and by then I felt really emotional. The last few hundred pages of the book had Alice Hopkins make a real difference in regards to the trials, and I was tempted to shed a tear.
As for her brother, I hated his guts. Even after Alice was reunited with him, he was just cold and distant. I felt sorry for him a little bit because of an event in his past that left him physically scarred, but that still didn’t stop me from hating him. He lacked compassion, and it came across to me that he really didn’t like women (apart from his equally cold maid). He made a perfect villain (and he’s based off a real life man named Matthew Hopkins) and for that, I applaud Beth Underdown’s writing.
Character Rating: 4 out of 4 Stars
I wasn’t instantly gripped on this book until I was a few pages into it (like 30 pages), but I did finish this book within 5 days so…you could say it had me hooked once the story really started to get going. Upon reading Alice’s travels with her brother and what she witnessed, I wanted to know more, therefore I read every night and every few hours a day until I finished.
So is it really gripping? …Yes. Yes it is.
Grip Rating: 1½ out of 2 Stars
Altogether, I found this novel to be very emotional and interesting with a story that makes you want to jump in and knock out every superstitious man and woman in the village. I also found the fact that Beth Underdown incorporated fact into this novel awesome, so props to her! As for the story, I thought that it was quite something and in the end…I just sighed. Not because of something bad, but because of sympathy. I felt so sad and sympathetic for Alice. Poor, poor Alice…
Overall Rating: 4 + 4 + 1½ = 9½ out of 10 Stars
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