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The Black Hours

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  34 ratings  ·  18 reviews
‘Look upon this wretch, all of you! Look upon her and thank God for his love and his mercy. Thank God that he has sent me to rid the world of such filth as this.’ 1647 and England is in the grip of civil war. In the ensuing chaos, fear and suspicion are rife and anyone on the fringes of society can find themselves under suspicion. Matthew Hopkins, self -styled Witchfinder ...more
Paperback, 276 pages
Published October 24th 2013 by Createspace Independent Publishing Platform
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Terry Tyler
Aug 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars

I read this book over a period of a couple of days, which is a good sign - I was reading when I should have been writing!

I don't know much about rural life in this period of history, or indeed about the witch hunts of the time, but I reckon you can tell by the way The Black Hours is written that Ms Williams certainly knows her stuff - there's a piece in the back of the book that describes her research, and I'm glad to see she's writing more books about the ordinary people of the time; I
Cathy Ryan
Sep 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
There has obviously been an enormous amount of research gone into this story and to have the narrative from the Witchfinder’s point of view as well as Alice Pendle’s makes for an even bigger impact. Added to that the fact that Matthew Hopkins is not a fictional character but was indeed a Witchfinder General, although this seems to have been self bestowed title, and believed to be responsible for the deaths of around three hundred women during the span of two years.

Hopkins, believing himself to b
Rosie Amber
Feb 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The Black Hours is a book that thinks about the actual lives of ordinary people who are mixed up in a period of history that is well publicised. Set in England around 1647, a time of Civil War and strong religious times. This book looks at the famous Witch Trials.

The author has interpreted some of the documented names and facts into a thoughtful story about the horrors of the period. We meet Alice Pendle and her Grandmother Maggie, wise women of Coggeshall who have used herbs and ointments to he
Barb Taub
Jul 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
In the three years of his short career as Witchfinder General from 1644 to 1647, Matthew Hopkins was directly responsible for the deaths of over three hundred women. What author Alison Williams wants to know is not what happened or even how or why. In The Black HoursThe Black Hours, what she sets out to examine is who. Who were the murdered women, who were their accusers, and even who was the young man who became the Witchfinder?

She introduces us to a tiny English village, Coggeshall, where seve
Crystin McDaniel
Nov 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
Title: The Black Hours by Alison Williams
Genre: Historical Fiction

First off, I'd like to mention that this novel is very different from my typical reading preferences. This isn't a young adult novel, nor is it fantasy. There is very little romance, and there isn't really a happily ever after. The Black Hours is a very dark tale; written like fiction, but based on actual events that occurred in 16th century England.

The story follows two main characters - Matthew Hopkins, a documented witch hunter
Jonathan Rowe
Feb 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Matthew Hopkins, the self-styled Witchfinder General, terrorised 17th century England and sent hundreds of innocents to their deaths on trumped-up charges of witchcraft. This novel dramatises the end of Hopkins' career. It looks at the persecution of Alice Pendle and her grandmother and explores how accusations of witchcraft started and how they grew on rumours and petty village resentments. Alice's ordeal takes her to the dungeons of Colchester Castle and concludes in a courtroom drama when her ...more
Luccia Gray
May 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
The Black Hours is not an easy novel to read because it’s based on the true story of a cruel witch-finder during the English Civil War, in the 17th century.
Alison Williams thrust good and evil upon me disturbingly, because at the beginning, evil is shown to have the upper hand. I was outraged as I was taken inside the vicious witchfinder’s sick and manipulative mind, which enabled him to enlist the help of the landowners, magistrates, other members of the clergy, as well as some spiteful townspe
Becky Stephens
Nov 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
The Black Hours is an authentic historical fiction tale based on Matthew Hopkins, the self-proclaimed Witchfinder General, who sent hundreds of innocent women to their deaths based on false accusations of witchcraft.

I found this tale to be so heartbreaking, it was difficult to pick it up at times. However, Alison Williams certainly did her research and wrote a fantastic tale.

Alice Pendle and her grandmother use herbs and ointments to heal fellow villagers, and the villagers were content to use t
Feb 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I do love a book based on true life events and this one, local to me, didn’t disappoint.

Alice Pendle and her grandmother Maggie are the wise women of the village, administering herbs to the sick and helping to bring babies into the world. These type of women were often blamed for the ills of village life but were still sought out in times of sickness – a really thin line to live by. Alice faces many difficulties from being outcast, brutally assaulted and attacked but she shows a strength of char
Linda Fagioli-Katsiotas
Jan 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is one of those books that you keep thinking about, long after you’ve finished reading it. The story line moves forward with intrigue and action so it is difficult to put down. Alison Williams takes the witch-hunts of British history and gives a voice to the ordinary people who were affected. But she also, without commentary, interjects the role of religion at that time, as well as the lowly status of women. The Witchfinder, upon hearing a woman in a prison cell being sexually assaulted by ...more
B.A. Spicer
Jun 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I must say that I was gripped by this book. There are parts that are so suspenseful that I had to sneak off and hide so that I could finish a chapter in peace! The character of Matthew Hopkins is remarkably drawn and I note at the end of the book that Alison Williams did a great deal of research into the subject of witch hunting in 17th century England before writing this book. Hopkins is both evil and almost childlike in his actions. He never fails to justify his beliefs with logic that, to him ...more
M.L. LeGette
Oct 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
Good golly. Talk about intense. I had never heard of Matthew Hopkins until reading Williams’ The Black Hours. Learning that he was in fact an actual human being was almost more than I could stand. (I was having a hard enough time when I thought he was fictional.)

rosies-book-review-team-1The book is aptly named. Serious dark hours will be before you, reader, you have been warned. We are talking injustice piled onto injustice, served with a heaping side of (you got it) injustice.

But if you’re fasc
Oct 22, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
With The Black Hours, Alison Williams has created a compelling story of women accused of witchcraft and their Puritan prosecutor Matthew Hopkins. The Black Hours is a story based on historic events, Matthew Hopkins' activities were done 'in God's name', and show some pitch black hours of history, indeed; 200-300 women had to die. Alison Williams did a thorough research and elaborated a gripping read. It is a story that grips and holds you in its spell. I felt rather close to the events, at times ...more
June Kearns
Sep 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This was such a good read, I almost finished it in one go.
Set in the 17th Century,the fascinating story of ordinary women finding themselves persecuted due to rumour,ignorance and superstition, has some chilling resonances with recent historical events.
Unusually, the tale was told from the perspective of both persecutor and victim. For me, this racked up the tension to an almost unbearable degree - so much so, that at one point, I was tempted to go to the end just to make sure that all would end
Delia Sandford
Aug 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed this book very much x
Thorne Moore
Nov 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
The Black Hours is focussed on the works of Matthew Hopkins, self-styled Witchfinder General, who was responsible for the execution of several hundred women on charges of witchcraft during the civil war. Hopkins is an intriguing, if disturbing, case study for readers living in a world where similar perverted zealotry is at work against hapless innocents. In The Dark Hours, he is portrayed not as a two-dimensional cardboard villain, but as a man whose motives are utterly confused – a mixture of o ...more
Georgia Rose
Mar 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have always hated hearing people bleat on about how life is not fair, because in my mind I don’t understand what right they have to expect it to be so. However, throughout The Black Hours I kept being reminded of just how unfair life was for those suspected of witchcraft.

At the beginning of this story we meet Alice Pendle and her grandmother, Margaret (Maggie) Prentice, who provide midwifery services to the women of the Coggeshall as well as making up herbal remedies to help those who are sick
Shelley Wilson
Mar 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I recently read a favourable review for Blackwater, Alison William’s second book and prequel to The Black Hours. The review was a glowing testament to the authors writing and research. I probably should have started with that novel, but I have an OCD obsession with watching and reading in the order things are published (I can only re-watch Star Wars by starting with episode four!). So I downloaded The Black Hours and began reading.

Set in 1647, this novel describes the threats faced by women who
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