07 Oct The Witchfinder’s Sister by Beth Underdown Blog Tour
Hi guys, hope you’re having a wonderful and relaxing Sunday! Today I’m part of another fab blog tour, this time for Beth Underdown and her great debut ‘The Witchfinder’s Sister’. Before I get on with my review, a massive thanks to lovely Katy and everyone at Penguin for the chance to be part of this event. Enjoy your day & make sure you add THE WITCHFINDER’S SISTER to your carts, yup it’s that good.
I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
The Withfinder’s Sister by Beth Underdown
Published by Penguin Random House UK
Published on 2.3.2017
1645. When Alice Hopkins’ husband dies in a tragic accident, she returns to the small Essex town of Manningtree, where her brother Matthew still lives.
But home is no longer a place of safety. Matthew has changed, and there are rumours spreading through the town: whispers of witchcraft, and of a great book, in which he is gathering women’s names.
To what lengths will Matthew’s obsession drive him?
And what choice will Alice make, when she finds herself at the very heart of his plan?
Based on the true story of the man known as the Witchfinder General, this exquisitely rendered novel transports you to a time and place almost unimaginable, where survival might mean betraying those closest to you, and danger lurks outside every door.
Beth Underdown, the author we’ll be hearing about a lot in the future! I know this might not be the best way to start a review, maybe a short synopsis would be better, but I really had to get it out there. I am so fascinated with her writing and this debut. I adore the time period the book explores, seventeen-century England and how she manages to portray the witch hunt and trials raging through England during that time period.
At the very begging you’ll learn that book was inspired by actual events and the main character, Matthew Hopkins is based on the real M. Hopkins who was connected with many crimes against innocent women. I don’t know about you, but I do love a good historical fiction based on real events/people, this makes it even more fun to read.
The book is set in England in 1645. It is told by Alice Hopkins, Matthew’s older half-sister who is back to her childhood home in Manningtree after her husband dies. She’s got no one else left, except her little brother whom she hadn’t heard from in long 5 years. Not even a single letter, though they promised to each other as kids they would keep in touch regularly. Oh , except the few lines Matthew sent to let Alice know their mother is dead and to be buried. Alice fears what she’ll see in Manningtree, it’s been so long and Matthews’s probably changed…especially knowing that he never accepted and forgave her her choices. Alice left home years ago to marry a person she loved, a person who was her only love unfortunately didn’t fit the social criteria of her family. Matthew never approved of him, the son of a servant, which only makes it harder for Alice, especially now she’s pregnant and doesn’t know how to approach Matthew with the news.
Once in Manningtree she learns about who Matthew has become, the little scarred boy whom she protected as a child. And this book reveals it all, all his crimes, victims, witch hunts. The sweet little boy she grew up with turns into an obsessive, evil, vengeful man full of hate. How is she supposed to keep quiet? She needs to reveal it all, all his crimes and journal entries.
This book is probably one of the best historical debuts I’ve ever read and I absolutely enjoyed the setting. I think Beth did and AMAZING job in portraying Manningtree and all the atmosphere in England at that time. I think I could simply close me eyes and be transported to this dark time in the history of human kind.
I wasn’t the biggest fan of Alice, despite thinking she’s a great narrator. But I didn’t really feel her that much as I wish I had. While there’s a lot of descriptions who just added to the facts on which this story is based, I really wish there was more about the actual hunting. I am by no means disappointed, however think I would enjoy it more if that was the case.
I was hooked from the very beginning. I just couldn’t put the book down. I traveled with Alice to Manningtree, I was enjoying the scenery and felt the fear in her stomach as she was approaching her home. It was so vivid and so real. The first half of the book was simply unputdownable for me, but then the pace slowed down. As the story got slower, I would catch myself not being able to focus, so that’s the only reason for the 4 * rating.
However, it’s still an amazing, beautifully written debut and I’m sure we’ll be hearing of Beth a lot in the future. Well researched, beautiful story and a must for all fans of historical fiction and 17 century England.
About Beth Underdown
Beth Underdown was born in Rochdale in 1987. She studied at the University of York and then the University of Manchester, where she is now a Lecturer in Creative Writing.
The Witchfinder’s Sister is her debut novel, and is based on the life of the 1640s witch finder Matthew Hopkins.
She first came across him while reading a book about seventeenth-century midwifery. As you do.