The Witchfinder's Sister

The Witchfinder's Sister

Book - 2017
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"A debut literary historical thriller based on the witch hunts in 1640's England--the most intense in English history--in which Matthew Hopkins, the Witchfinder General, convicted more than a hundred women of witchcraft. In 1645, Alice Hopkins returns to her brother's house in disgrace, husbandless and pregnant. The brother she remembers is now a grown man and he's hunting witches: women who live on the margins of society--often childless widows, or women with deformities or feeble minds who are rejected by their communities. Viewed through the eyes of Alice, this is a woman's story of fear, friendship, love, betrayal, and redemption. What--or who--is Matthew really hunting? And to what dark place will his obsession lead them all?"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York : Ballantine Books, [2017]
Edition: First U.S. edition
ISBN: 9780399179143
0399179143
Characteristics: 312 pages : map ; 25 cm

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DeltaQueen50
Mar 07, 2019

The Witchfinder’s Sister by Beth Underdown is a novel of historical fiction based loosely on a real 17th century witchfinder, Matthew Hopkins. The story is told by his sister, Alice, who recently widowed and pregnant has come to Essex from London to her brother’s household. Alice can only watch in fear and horror as her brother fanaticism and cruelty increase day by day. She fears that his behavior has stemmed from his childhood and is based on his disfigurement in a fire at a very young age and a desire for revenge.

While I always appreciate good historical fiction, I never really warmed up to this book. I think part of that was the voice of the main character. Alice related her story in a remote, unemotional voice, very much as a witness not an active participant. I would think watching a man victimize the old, the feeble, the poor and the defenseless would have generated much more emotion that she showed. Overall an interesting historical novel but not one that I found particularly compelling.

t
tracysue
Feb 04, 2019

I love historical fiction where the characters are believable, and I learn something about the topic or era. This one definitely hit all the marks. Terrifying story, well written.

Cynthia_N Nov 04, 2017

Enjoyable read. In the epilogue the author gives the information that Matthew Hopkins was a real person. She does state that the book is very loosely based on him and that she took great literary liberties for the sake of the story but it did make me like the book just a touch more!

***Kind of Spoiler***

I just knew that Alice's condition was going to get her in trouble! I was very sad about the circumstances that changed it but I was glad it did not become an issue.

m
miraellie
Aug 14, 2017

Starts off strong, but then by the middle and end becomes a little meandering. I did enjoy the relationships between the women, and there were some legitimately creepy moments. The very last sentence ruined a LOT of the book for me, though, because it was just so unnecessarily cliche. You can probably guess it without even reading the novel, that's how cliche it was.

I'll be looking for Underdown's next novel, though, as this one was strong enough to merit that.

j
jmalone13
Jun 11, 2017

I highly recommend this book. Wish I could find more like it.

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