Daughters of the Witching Hill

Mary Sharratt, Author
Mary Sharratt, Author . Houghton Mifflin Harcourt $24 (333p) ISBN 978-0-547-06967-8
Reviewed on: 12/14/2009
Release date: 04/01/2010
Paperback - 333 pages - 978-0-547-42229-9
Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-1-299-88225-6
Open Ebook - 352 pages - 978-0-547-48848-6
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The 1612 Lancashire, England, witch trials that resulted in nine executions inspires Sharratt’s gorgeously imagined novel that wonders if some of the accusations of witchcraft might be true. Sharratt (The Vanishing Point ) focuses on the Southerns family of Pendle Forest. Widowed mother Bess Southerns tries to save her family from bleakest poverty by healing the sick, telling fortunes, and blessing those facing misfortune, conjuring “charmes” that combine forbidden Catholic ritual, medicinal herbs, and guidance provided by her spirit-friend, Tibb. Though Bess compassionately uses her powers, her granddaughter, Alizon, unwittingly endangers her family while under the interrogation of a conniving local magistrate. Sharratt crafts her complex yet credible account by seamlessly blending historical fact, modern psychology, and vivid evocations of the daily life of the poor whose only hope of empowerment lay in the black arts. Set in forests and towers, farms and villages, deep in a dungeon and on the gallows, this novel grows darker as it approaches its inevitable conclusion, but proves uplifting in its portrayal of women who persevere, and mothers and daughters who forgive. (Apr.)

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