Friday, June 18, 2010

Review of Daughters of the Witching Hill

Daughters of the Witching Hill
Mary Sharratt
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
331 pages

Daughters of the Witching Hill is a realistic look at life soon after Reformation in England and based on the testimonies of the 1612 Pendle Hill witch hunt and trial.
A blend of fact and fiction that will leave you wondering how humanity has survived with all the inhumanity that it’s been plagued with. Ms. Sharratt’s tale of these men and women of Pendle Hill is bewitching in it’s telling. We start with the matriarch Bess Southerns who is a local cunning woman who for a simple bag of oats or a laying hen will cure ills of man and beast alike. She remembers vividly the times when she was a young girl, before the papists were forbidden to worship and she’s seen the times changing. She only uses her talent for good, never for evil for she never wants the badge of witch, she’s very careful to teach her family the same. But sometimes fate can be a hard task master and loyalty can turn to betrayal.
Mary brings us a haunting tale that will stay with you long after the last page has been turned. Her story line is unique giving her readers an authentic look at England at the height of Reformation where long after Henry VIII’s death the Stuart King of James puts his own mark upon it. His mark was a stain that was smeared all across England. It was dark days and times for the simple folk and Mary stresses that with her wonderful dialogue, dialogue that can take us to the hills of England of the middle ages where we visualize the settings, people and doings. Her starring characters Bess Southerns and her family are all imaginatively portrayed, her supporting characters are as well, especially during the trial when the antiheros show their true colors.
You will laugh, you will cry, you will empathize and sympathize, you will abhor, but most of all you will feel, feel for these amazing people and what they lived for and some died for. It will make you learn the history of the times without even knowing your actually learning because she makes it so entertaining. This is a definite must read for any lover of history, any lover of literary fiction, any lover of a great read.


  1. I have this on my shelf. I hop to get to it in the next couple of weeks!

  2. Oh I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by this read.
    I'd love to hear what you think of it.
    And it's going to be out October read at the B&N general fiction book club join us.