Essex, England, 1645. With a heavy heart, Alice Hopkins returns to the small town she grew up in. Widowed, with child, and without prospects, she is forced to find refuge at the house of her younger brother, Matthew. In the five years she has been gone, the boy she knew has become a man of influence and wealth--but more has changed than merely his fortunes. Alice fears that even as the cruel burns of a childhood accident still mark his face, something terrible has scarred Matthew's soul.
There is a new darkness in the town, too--frightened whispers are stirring in the streets, and Alice's blood runs cold with dread when she discovers that Matthew is a ruthless hunter of suspected witches. Torn between devotion to her brother and horror at what he's become, Alice is desperate to intervene--and deathly afraid of the consequences. But as Matthew's reign of terror spreads, Alice must choose between her safety and her soul. ~Goodreads Blurb
As much as it pains me to admit it, it probably wouldn’t be a great idea for me to go time travelling. The future might be better, though that has risks of its own. Travelling to the past on the other hand, would see me put in a madhouse or more likely accused of witchcraft. Author Beth Underdown has done a terrifyingly wonderful job of bringing a different viewpoint to the English witch hunt. Before Salem even had a chance to eat some mind altering fungus, they had begun to receive reports about Matthew Hopkins in England, the self proclaimed Witch Hunter General. This all took place during the English Civil War. Unlike the American Civil War, this war was very much over religion. The Protestant leader Cromwell and his Roundheads eventually toppled the reigning monarch and a land that had always been on the edge of all-out Protestant and Catholic war slipped into just that. Throughout all this, Matthew Hopkins was travelling over the country, interrogating those accused of witchcraft. 106. The sheer amount of women killed before Hopkins death is truly upsetting. 106, before he was stopped. Underdown then asks the question, “Was it death or something else that stopped him?”
By using a woman and a sister to look at this terrifying creature, author Beth Underdown has given her readers a more relatable voice to connect to and fear for. One has to pause several times, to wonder if there really are paranormal activities taking place or if we are seeing a manifestation of the paranoia of the time. A delicious thrill that lingers in the mind, this story only lasted me a couple of nights. I wanted to know more and more about what was happening and I think I may have to do more of my own research into this time. I had never really thought about the English Civil War in any real depth but Underdown’s latest book has definitely sparked something for me.
*This eBook was provided by NetGalley and Ballantine Books in exchange for honest feedback**
Freelance Editor & Reviewer