Review: The Witchfinder’s Sister (By Beth Underdown)

Review: The Witchfinder’s Sister (By Beth Underdown)

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.

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Plot

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

Characters

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

Grip

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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For more The Witchfinder’s Sister reviews and any information, please visit https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31378911-the-witchfinder-s-sister

 

Have you read this book? If so, what did you think? Leave a comment below! 

 

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Review: The Essex Serpent (By Sarah Perry)

Review: The Essex Serpent (By Sarah Perry)

The Essex Serpent is a novel of historical fiction written by Sarah Perry, who happens to be an Essex native herself. Her inspiration for this story comes from the legend of the serpent, whereby it is said to have lurked in Essex waters in the past, but who really knows, for a legend is forever a mystery…

So, what about this novel? Well, it’s set in the late 1800’s and is centred around Ms Cora Seabourne. Who is she? Well, keep on reading to find out!

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Plot

The first thing I noticed whilst starting to read this book was the style of writing. It was the type that you’d find in books written in the 1800’s, and I found this to be a great fit. It made me feel like I was reading a classic book, and I loved it. And it’s not just the style of writing that made me like this book, but the layout too. The use of letters and journal entries gave an even deeper insight to the characters thoughts, adding a greater understanding and a plot with depth. With everything that was happening, I could never guess what was going to happen next, and sometimes I was and wasn’t surprised.

Additionally, the plot is rich in detail, with descriptions of scenes and the environment written in a way I could picture them perfectly. The personalities of characters made it easier to imagine what they would have worn and what kind of decor they would have in their house or in their hotel room. With such clear and vibrant descriptions, I was able to have a vibrant imagination.

Plot Rating: 4 out of 4 Stars

Characters

Cora Seabourne is a widow and our leading lady, and I have to be honest here…I love her! She’s unlike any Victorian lady I’ve read in classic books. She’s boystrous, outlandish and does not care about what she looks like, and I found her so refreshing. The only sad thing I noticed about her was that she acted the way she did because her marriage to her deceased husband was an unhappy one. It is hinted that she was on the receiving end of domestic abuse, therefore I concluded she found happiness in being free and not really caring about her character around other people. Even so, she came across as a strong character who only desired love, and I felt for her.

As well as Cora, there were others who occasionally took to the main stage, such as Reverend William Ransome and Dr Luke Garrett. Luke was a character I liked and disliked, but I enjoyed reading his little story because he had such strong affection towards Cora that edged on obsessive and it made me feel excited for what lay ahead. As for William, I found him to be a simple character who slowly began to question his faith once Cora came into the picture, but still he stayed true to who he was despite his urges and I liked this element. He questioned Evolution, but still considered it alongside his beliefs, and I found this kind of progression to be realistic to what would have happened to those in the late 1800’s who questioned faith over fact. Will’s character, and others, were just as important as Cora was because they allowed character progression and change, which was an exciting prospect.

Character Rating: 4 out of 4 Stars

Grip

Upon beginning this book, I found that I was already a little gripped just by learning about Cora and what was happening. It wasn’t excitement that enticed me to read on, but rather curiosity. Things were already in motion once I started to read, and I wanted to know more. Once I was in the depths of this book, I realise that this story is not one that you read because of the main title, but because of the exploration that the characters go through, between themselves and their surroundings. The Essex Serpent is only a small portion of this story, with the characters and their lives being perhaps more interesting than the myth.

Grip Rating: 2 out of 2 Stars

In all, The Essex Serpent is a satisfying read that I highly recommend to those with a taste for the old tales of mystery and unique love. It is packed with such detail that you dare not rush the book in fear of forgetting what happened in the previous sentence/page/chapter. The serpent itself is a mystery, and during this story I kept asking myself ‘What’s going to happen next’ and ‘Is there really a serpent in the Essex Blackwater River?’ Well, now I know. Now you MUST find out for yourself!

Overall Rating: 4 + 4 + 2 = 10 out of 10 Stars

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For more The Essex Serpent reviews and further information, please visit https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32075861-the-essex-serpent

Have you read this book? If so, what did you think? Leave a comment below!