Thursday, July 5, 2012

Book Review: Daughters of the Witching Hill by Mary Sharratt

Happenstance, that’s truly what it was. I was surfing the web looking for something when I arrived at author Mary Sharratt’s website. There, cannily, Mary shares the first chapter of Daughters of the Witching Hill.

Blurb:  ‘In Daughters of Witching Hill, Mary Sharratt brings history to life in a vivid and wrenching novel of strong women, family and betrayal inspired by the 1612 Pendle witch trails.’

Main character, Demdike began to tell her tale and I fell under her spell.

‘See us gathered here… We three wait till Baldwin catches a glimpse of us and out he storms…. A loud crack strikes the earth—it’s a horsewhip he carries…
“Whores and witches,” he rails, shrill enough to set the crows to flight. “Get out of my ground.”
Slashes of air hit my face as he brandishes his whip, seeking to strike fear into us, but it’s his terror I taste as I let go of Alizon’s guiding hand and step forward, firm and square on my ragbundled feet.’ (p. 3)

That first meeting gave me a burning desire to learn more. So I marched down to my local bookstore and ordered a copy. Told in the first person, I didn’t read the book; I shared the journey. Demdike’s struggles became my own. I felt her pain and relished in her meagre blessings.

This book is rich in language, setting, plot and character. Buying a copy for myself wasn’t sufficient. I requested that the Mayne Island reading centre add it to their stacks. I’m pleased to report that they have. And, moreover, a friend recently borrowed it. My friend and I agree—this is a marvellous book. Well done, Mary!

-If your family were staving would you take credit for abilities you hoped you possessed? Would you do so even if ill use meant your death?
-How would you explain Tibbs? Is Demdike mentally ill? Or is there another explanation?