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Book Review: The Witch Finder's Sister by Beth Underdown

by Louise Bloomer

This book is part fact and part fiction, based on a true historical story and very well-written. Although I’ve been very busy, I found it hard to put the book down once I got started. Beth has obviously done her homework when it comes to the content regarding Matthew Hopkins.

The story starts in Manningtree, Essex in 1645. Four years into the Civil War, it follows Matthew Hopkins, The Witch Finder General (a title that wasn’t actually bestowed upon him in Parliament) over the next three years - and how over 100 women came to be put to death as witches solely on his say so.

Unlike many books about Hopkins and the hanging of witches, this is somewhat different, as it is written in the hand of his sister Alice Hopkins and her turmoil at following her brother's methods in finding and torturing the women he proclaims to be witches. Putting herself in danger for disagreeing with his methods and having nowhere else to go, she formulates her own plan for survival.

Not only is it thought provoking and in some places upsetting for a fellow witch like me to read, Beth Underdown’s skill at creating atmosphere and foreboding is outstanding; it's a novel that draws you under its spell and leaves you believing every word written on the paper.

If you like a book that keeps you on the edge of your seat till the last page while also teaching you the facts about historic pagan timelines, this is the book for you.


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