The Witchfinder's Sister (Hardcover)
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A thrilling debut novel, a literary historical thriller based on the devastating witch hunts in 1640s England conducted by "Witchfinder General" Matthew Hopkins--for readers of Sarah Waters and Katherine Howe. Before Salem, there was Manningtree. . . . "This summer, my brother Matthew set himself to killing women, but without ever once breaking the law." 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. Alone and surrounded by suspicious eyes, Alice seeks out the fuel firing her brother's brutal mission--and is drawn into the Hopkins family's past. There she finds secrets nested within secrets: and at their heart, the poisonous truth. Only by putting her own life and liberty in peril can she defeat this darkest of evils--before more innocent women are forced to the gallows. Inspired by the real-life story of notorious "Witchfinder General" Matthew Hopkins, Beth Underdown's thrilling debut novel blends spellbinding history with harrowing storytelling for a truly haunting reading experience. Praise for The Witchfinder's Sister "Entertaining and thought-provoking--with a valuable message for our own times."--The Washington Post "This satisfyingly suspenseful book should appeal strongly to readers who enjoyed other witchcraft-themed historical fiction; it will also attract those who like such novels as Jessie Burton's The Miniaturist that feature female protagonists resisting restrictive social roles to do a little sleuthing about the men in their lives. Highly recommended."--Library Journal (starred review) "Underdown's well-researched, believable chronicle of persecution brings its era alive and will have readers rapt. . . . The Crucible is the obvious read-alike for this book. It also connects nicely with such dystopian classics as 1984 and The Handmaid's Tale."--Booklist "This debut historical novel is a well-written dramatization of witch hunting in Europe during the seventeenth century. . . . An entertaining yarn for readers who can't get enough of the subject matter."--Publishers Weekly "Vivid and terrifying."--Paula Hawkins, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Girl on the Train "Gripping . . . The Witchfinder's Sister gives a long-forgotten historical tragedy a fresh, feminist spin."--Melanie Benjamin, New York Times bestselling author of The Swans of Fifth Avenue
About the Author
Beth Underdown studied English literature at the University of York and worked as an intern at the arts and culture magazine Aesthetica. After becoming an editor at Phaidon Press, Underdown graduated with distinction from the University of Manchester's Creative Writing MA program. She came across the story of Matthew Hopkins while reading a book about seventeenth-century midwifery. Underdown now lectures at the University of Manchester and lives in the Peak District, not too far from where she was born; the sense of history in that landscape is an important catalyst for her writing. This is her first novel.