Publication Date: 04/03/2021 ISBN: 9781783786435 Category:

The Manningtree Witches

A. K. Blakemore

Publisher: Granta Books
Publication Date: 04/03/2021 ISBN: 9781783786435 Category:
Hardback

£12.99

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Mr B's review

Essex, 1643: dirt-poor and fatherless, Rebecca West’s life gets overturned with the arrival of Witchfinder General Matthew Hopkins. Visceral, transportive, and refreshing, this novel explores the fate of women on the margins during the English Civil War

Description

WINNER OF THE DESMOND ELLIOTT PRIZE

Fear and destruction take root in a community of women when the Witchfinder General comes to town, in this dark and thrilling debut.

England, 1643. Parliament is battling the King; the war between the Roundheads and the Cavaliers rages. Puritanical fervour has gripped the nation, and the hot terror of damnation burns black in every shadow.

In Manningtree, depleted of men since the wars began, the women are left to their own devices. At the margins of this diminished community are those who are barely tolerated by the affluent villagers – the old, the poor, the unmarried, the sharp-tongued. Rebecca West, daughter of the formidable Beldam West, fatherless and husbandless, chafes against the drudgery of her days, livened only by her infatuation with the clerk John Edes. But then newcomer Matthew Hopkins takes over the Thorn Inn and begins to ask questions about the women of the margins. When a child falls ill with a fever and starts to rave about covens and pacts, the questions take on a bladed edge.

The Manningtree Witches plunges its readers into the fever and menace of the English witch trials, where suspicion, mistrust and betrayal ran amok as the power of men went unchecked and the integrity of women went undefended. It is a visceral, thrilling book that announces a bold new talent.

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