Paul Pessolano's Reviews > Daughters of the Witching Hill

Daughters of the Witching Hill by Mary Sharratt
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Feb 03, 11

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In 1612 in Lancashire, England, the town of Pendle hill, seven women and two men were hanged for witchcraft. An eighth woman escaped the hangman's noose by dying in prison.

Although written as fiction, the story is based in historical fact, not unlike the Salem Witch Trials.

The story revolves around Bess Southern and her family. King Henry VIII has dissolved the Catholic Church but many still remain true to the Church and remain steeped in the ways of the Church.

Bess is known throughout the county for her curing ways. She uses Catholic prayers from her youth to heal the sick and foretell the future. She is very cunning in her ways and finds not only respect, but also some fear from her neighbors.

Bess tries to pass down her knowledge to Alizon, who is very reluctant to take on the role of her grandmother.

Bess's oldest friend and greatest rival, Anne Whittle, turns against everyone when her landlord's son attempts to rape her daughter. The young man dies and Anne becomes suspect in his death.

Matters go from bad to worse when a peddler, who after having harsh words with Alizon, suffers a stroke that is attributed to witchcraft.

A local magistrate, trying to make a name for himself as a witch hunter, plays family against family and neighbor against neighbor until a guilty verdict is reached for those on trial.

This is not an easy book to read due to the author's use of the language of the period. It also takes sometime to get all the characters in place. It will take at least 100 pages to get into the story. I must admit I was tempted several times to put the book down, but fortunately kept at it and found it to be a very interesting and worthwhile read. It will appeal to those readers who like historical fiction and stories involving withcraft and devils.
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