Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Daughters of the Witching Hill by Mary Sharratt

Book Details
Daughters of the Witching Hill by Mary Sharratt
Hardcover, 352 pages
2010, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
ISBN: 0547069677

In Daughters of the Witching Hill, Mary Sharratt brings history to life in a vivid and wrenching novel of strong women, family and betrayal inspired by the 1612 Pendle witch trials.

Bess Southerns, an impoverished widow, lives with her children in a crumbling old tower in Pendle Forest. Drawing on Catholic ritual, medicinal herbs, and guidance from her spirit-friend Tibb, Bess heals the sick and foretells the future in exchange for food and drink. As she ages, she instructs her best friend, Anne, and her granddaughter, Alizon, in her craft. Anne ultimately turns to dark magic, while Alizon struggles to accept the power she has inherited and dreams of a simpler life. But when a peddler suffers a stroke after exchanging harsh words with Alizon, a local magistrate tricks her into accusing her family and neighbors of witchcraft. Suspicion and paranoia reach frenzied heights as friends and loved ones turn on one another and the novel draws to an inevitable conclusion.

The Salem Witch Trials were taught when I was in high school and I often find myself drawn to stories revolving around them. The Pendle Witches are a new topic for me even though these trials occurred over 80 years before Salem.

I liked how the all of the women in this novel were strong, but each in their own ways. The witches were shown not as evil or completely free from guilty, but in the gray area of trying to do right by the ones they love.

Daughters of the Witching Hill is beautifully written. The book captures the voice of a time centuries past in its dialogue, action, and emotional tension. It does this without relying on heavy description and unnecessary background that can often weigh down historical fiction of this kind. The story drew me in and held my attention to the very end. Mary Sharratt has taken the historical accounts of a witch trial and created a story of the events that lead up to it, answering questions I wasn't even aware I had.


Mary Sharratt's


  1. Love your review! This book sounds interesting!*_*

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  3. Great Review! I have actually heard this book is well worth the read!

  4. Sounds lovely - I've always been very curious about the salem witch trials.

  5. Thank you for reminding me to add this one to the goodreads list. It sounds like something I will really enjoy :-)

  6. This sounds like a fantastic book. I hadn't heard of the Pendle witches before. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

  7. I've never heard of this before. It sounds really interesting. I wonder if I can find this at my library...

  8. I have this from Netgalley too.
    I think its time to move this a few notches up my tbr list.

    I don't really know much about the Salem Trials and it was never taught from my high school, different country and all but I did hear stories and read a few about them, and like you, I get drawn to the story too.

    Thanks for reviewing.