A dazzling, shocking novel that speaks to our times, drawing on the 16th-century case of the witches of Warboys. Alice Samuel might be old and sharp-tongued, but she’s no fool. Visiting her new neighbours in her Fenland village, she suspects Squire Throckmorton’s household is not as God-fearing as it seems and finds the children troubled. What she cannot foresee is that all five daughters will succumb in turn to a terrifying affliction and accuse her of witchcraft – who else to blame than an ugly, black-capped woman with mysterious healing skills?
The Throckmortons’ maid Martha, uncomfortably aware of strange goings-on in the household herself, is reluctant to believe that Alice is a witch. Yet visiting scholars attracted by the news are convinced, evidence mounts and soon the entire village is swept up in the frenzied persecution of one of their own community.
Exploring a neglected episode in English history to powerful effect, The Bewitching chillingly conveys the brutal tribalism that can erupt in a closed society and how victims can be made to believe in their own wickedness.
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In a class of its own
Set in the 16th century, The Bewitching by Jill Dawson promises a powerful and chilling tale of witchcraft and persecution from one of our most skilful and absorbing storytellers.