Publication Date: 11/05/2023 ISBN: 9781473654655 Category:

The Bewitching

Jill Dawson

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Publication Date: 11/05/2023 ISBN: 9781473654655 Category:
Paperback / Softback


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Paula Hawkins

The Times

Mail on Sunday

From the award-winning author of The Language of Birds and The Crime Writer, a chilling tale of a witch-hunt

Alice Samuel might be old and sharp-tongued, but she’s no fool. Visiting her new neighbours in her Fenland village, she finds Squire Throckmorton’s family troubled and, she suspects, not as God-fearing as they seem. Yet when one of the daughters accuses her of witchcraft, Alice has no idea of the danger she is in or how quickly matters will escalate.

The Throckmortons’ maid Martha, uneasy herself about strange goings-on in the household, is reluctant to believe that Alice is a witch. But as the entire village gets swept up in the frenzied persecution of one of their own, she struggles to find a voice . . .


‘A skilful storyteller’
Hilary Mantel

‘A magnificent writer’
Cathy Rentzenbrink

‘A spark fires throughout Dawson’s work’

Publisher Review

Novels about witch-hunts are not rare beasts, but The Bewitching, which is based on the true story of the witches of Warboys, is a particularly fine example. Tension builds, events spiral out of control and it builds to a devastating finale -- Antonia Senior * The Times * In this literary page-turner, Jill Dawson brings vividly to the page the chilling tale of the witches of Warboys . . . a compulsive and thought-provoking account of guilt and persecution -- Paula Hawkins Jill Dawson enters thoroughly into her characters' religious world view, while giving a meaningful glance at the issues of today . . . she colours in the crude woodcut of history with passionate emotions and plausible motivations . . . And what more easy way to stifle an obstreperous woman's accusations than to accuse her first? Dawson's vivid retelling doesn't leave us with any comforting notion that human nature has advanced much -- Suzi Feay * Spectator * This well-researched historical novel weaves history and literary fiction to powerful, chilling effect -- Edward Argyle * Daily Express * [A] finely tuned tale about power and persecution * i * Alice, demonised for being outspoken, is a timeless female archetype, rendered with great skill by Dawson . . . a terrific piece of storytelling, immersed in its period but rich in resonance for the Twitter generation -- Max Davidson * Mail on Sunday * A deeply satisfying and highly feminist novel . . . Jill Dawson has a knack for putting you right in the time and place, dousing you in terrified concern and setting you alight. Highly recommended * Louisa Young * An important novel which gave me fresh insight into the wicked mechanism of misogyny. The truth and sadness of it is breathtaking, and the writing is just wonderful -- Sadie Jones Novels about witches - or, alternatively, women scapegoated, silenced and shunned - have flourished in recent years, but Dawson's is a cut above and cumulative in its emotional heft, being also an empathic examination of internalised misogyny and shame. And while its uncompromising denouement feels inevitable, a coda flares with reclaimed agency and even joy -- Stephanie Cross * Daily Mail * She crafts magic out of darkness and light. Nothing evokes the past as vividly as her deft prose. Dark as The Bewitching is, with its uncanny echoes of our own times, we know we are safe in her superb, story-telling hands * Philip Hoare * Profoundly involving, vivid and new . . . she brings all a poet's skill for the seductive texture of life to a breathlessly exciting narrative * Christobel Kent * A magnificent writer. I would read her shopping lists * Cathy Rentzenbrink * Set in the 16th century, The Bewitching by Jill Dawson promises a powerful and chilling tale of witchcraft and persecution from one of our most skilful and absorbing storytellers -- Books of 2022 * Daily Mail * A fascinating and deeply disturbing tale of witchcraft, male power, and the age-old fear of women * Caitlin Davies * This powerful novel seizes the reader from the first page . . . With her gift for penetrating into peoples' motives and silences Jill Dawson here succeeds in awakening the reality of long-past events * Gillian Beer * So atmospheric and very convincing - Martha is a wonderful character. It's beautifully imagined and written -- Kate Pullinger A vivid retelling of the true story of Alice Samuel . . . From the first farcical accusation to the novel's tragic denouement, the plot unfolds with the unrelenting pace of a psychological thriller . . . From a modern perspective, a perplexing feature of historic accounts of witchcraft trials is not so much why accused women confessed to their alleged crimes, but why they did so in such extravagant detail. Dawson does not shy away from this puzzle and her depiction of Alice Samuel's trial, drawn from contemporary accounts, is as plausible as it is harrowing -- Rebecca Abrams * FT * The novel evokes the language of the time through occasional period words and phrases without risking obscurity. Its complex plot involves a host of robustly drawn characters, with Alice herself and Robert's servant Martha mainly providing our perspectives on the events . . . [The Bewitching] handles its material with panache, and has real slow-burning power and pace -- Ian Duhig * Guardian *

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