Thursday, April 29, 2010

Review: Daughters of the Witching Hill by Mary Sharratt

Daughters of the Witching Hill
In the 1580s, Bess Southerns meets her familiar spirit, Tibb, who trains her in how to become a cunning woman. The skills she learns enable her impoverished family to get by. She hasn't had much of a happy life being married to a man who didn't love her and having a daughter who is not quite beautiful.

She trains others in what she learns but tensions are high. Accusations get made, betrayals sting deep, and what unfolds is a rich story of passion, friendship, love, and sorrow.

I have to confess it took awhile for me to get in the mindset of this older time. So in a way, this book was a slow burn for me. It took some time for me to start feeling affection for the characters but once I did, I really enjoyed reading about how their lives unfolded. I especially enjoyed learning about their time period and the loyalties they built.

The story opens being told from the viewpoint of Bess Southerns but over half of the book is told from the perspective of Alizon, her granddaughter. What was very interesting to me about this story was the folk magic form of Catholicism the accused witches believed in. And as always, I was touched by the continuing practice of a forbidden religion. Faith that is so deeply woven into one's life that they risk their life to continue to believe always inspires me.

The author includes an extensive note in the back of the book to explain the decisions she made in story-telling. I found this very interesting to read, especially to read about Bess Southerns confession. I believe her confession is the reason the author chose to tell the story in this way.

A very interesting and different piece of historical fiction based on true events.

Rating: 4.25/5
Things You Might Want to Know: well, witchcraft.
Source of Book: Received from publisher for review
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt


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