Review: The Witchfinder’s Sister, Beth Underdown

Synopsis: The number of women my brother Matthew killed, so far as I can reckon it, is one hundred and six… 

1645. When Alice Hopkins’ husband dies in a tragic accident, she returns to the small Essex town of Manningtree, where her brother Matthew still lives.

But home is no longer a place of safety. Matthew has changed, and there are rumours spreading through the town: whispers of witchcraft, and of a great book, in which he is gathering women’s names.



Title: The Wichfinder’s Sister
Author: Beth Underdown
Publisher: Viking
Pub Date: 2nd March 2017
Pages: 400
ISBN: 9780241978030


“These last months, I have learned that the acknowledged history that belongs to the daylight, that is not the only history. Turn over the stone and you will find another history, wriggling to escape.”

The Manningtree witch trials in Essex, one of the most ridiculous – and terrifying – periods for women in English history. As far as I’m aware, it’s also one that has been glossed over in fiction.

The Witchfinder’s Sister takes the notorious historical figure behind the trials, Matthew Stafford, and breathes life into him. The man who killed over a hundred women for witchcraft – so, for no reason whatsoever – has finally been given a voice.

“For they say what happened, but not what it was like. They say what happened, but they do not say why.”

His motivations, his emotions, his drive to damage so many women is brought into question in this tense and highly atmospheric historical drama.

Now, if you write about witches, it’s likely I’ll enjoy your book. If you write about witches well, I’ll love it. The Witchfinder’s Sister falls into the second category. The gripping plot, vivid descriptions of Essex during the 1600’s, and its emotionally-drawn out characters make the story very difficult to put down.

If you like gripping historical fiction, this is for you.

If you like witchy novels, this is for you.

If you like good books, this is for you.

Need I say more?

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