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The Witchfinder's Sister

3.61  ·  Rating details ·  8,555 ratings  ·  1,055 reviews
Essex, England, 1645. With a heavy heart, Alice Hopkins returns to the small town she grew up in. Widowed, with child, and without prospects, she is forced to find refuge at the house of her younger brother, Matthew. In the five years she has been gone, the boy she knew has become a man of influence and wealth--but more has changed than merely his fortunes. Alice fears tha ...more
Audio CD, 336 pages
Published April 25th 2017 by Books on Tape (first published March 2nd 2017)
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Kymberli Ward It's definitely not "lovey-dovey." It's a fictionalized account of an historical figure, about whom little is actually known. I don't believe it would…moreIt's definitely not "lovey-dovey." It's a fictionalized account of an historical figure, about whom little is actually known. I don't believe it would fall into "gothic/horror" either. It is horrifying, at times, but that's more my reaction to what actually went on in the 1640s England witch hunts, and the way people lived; the fear, superstition, and women as chattel. It's an excellent book, but if you're looking for gothic horror such as Shirley Jackson, et al, this doesn't fit the bill IMO.(less)

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Feb 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
Long before the Salem witch trials, there were the Manningtree witch trials in Essex England, and for many women it was a time of pure terror.

London 1645, and Alice Hopkins finds herself pregnant, and having to return to her home village of Manningtree, Essex, after the death of her husband. She will be living with her brother Matthew Hopkins 'The Witchfinder General'. Matthew is a cruel, troubled, sullen individual, with a persona of evil about him.

Alice discovers that not only is Matthew a ma
Dec 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Essex, England, 1645

Alice Hopkins is a pregnant widow who must return to her hometown of Manningtree, Essex, to reside with her brother, Matthew Hopkins. She has not seen him in five years and finds that he has changed. He is no longer the young man who loves scripture. Matthew is now a man with power and influence. He has become a powerful man who is feared as he is a hunter of witches. He has a list of names and carefully takes notes as he interviews those who have been accused of witch craft.
Diane S ☔
May 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 Manningtree, the Essex witch trials, in the two years between 1645 and 1647, hundreds of women were investigated and hanged as witches. Matthew Stafford was called the witch finder, a man who for unknown reasons pursued across many counties all rumors and gossip of supposed witches. In this novel the author attempts to give us a reason why Stafford acted and believed as he did.

Our narrator is Eliza, Matthew's sister, who has returned to Manningtree, after the death of her husband, a marriag
Irena BookDustMagic
Actual rating: 3,5

It has been 15 days since I read The Witchfinder’s Sister, and I still don’t know what to think about it.
That happens rarely to me, almost never.
I have to warn you that my review will probably be all over the place because I am still finding the words to express my thoughts, but there is one thing I can say for sure: The Witchfinder’s Sister left me confused.

The story follows Alice Hopkins who returns to her childhood town to live with her brother Matthew, after a tragic death
Sep 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"These last months, I have learned that the acknowledged history that belongs to the daylight, that is not the only history. Turn over the stone and you will find another history, wriggling to escape."

It is the seventeenth century in England, and while Civil War occupies the minds of both soldiers and citizens, one man has the opportunity to follow his own agenda without interference. Termed the Witchfinder, Matthew Hopkins has a list of names and scours the countryside of Essex and Suffolk in s
Jul 07, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4 stars for a realistic, if depressing, reconstruction of a time of hanging innocent women as witches.
This book is set from 1645 to 1648 in England, during the civil war. It is a time of fear and settling of old scores. Matthew Hopkins was a real person, and notorious for his activities as the "Witchfinder General."
The narrator is his sister, Alice, invented by the author. At the end of the book his sister says that he killed 106 women. There are historical records of various witch trials, fro
Find this and other reviews at: https://historicalfictionreader.blogs...

The New York Times Book Review says Beth Underdown’s The Witchfinder’s Sister is “a novel for our times…” and if that is true, I fear for both our times and the quality of literature it produces. I mean no offense to the reviewer or to the author for that matter, but I wholeheartedly disagree with the assessment and am not inclined to pretend otherwise.

The novel centers on the fictitious Alice Hopkins. For those who aren’t a
Alex ☣ Deranged KittyCat ☣
The Witchfinder's Sister is exactly what the title implies:
The number of women my brother Matthew killed, so far as I can reckon it, is one hundred and six...

1645. When Alice Hopkins' husband dies in a tragic accident, she has no choice but to return to the small Essex town of Manningtree, where her brother Matthew still lives.

But home is no longer a place of safety. Matthew has changed, and there are rumours spreading through the town: whispers of witches, and of a great book, in which her b
Liz Barnsley
Dec 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Witchfinder’s Sister is a tense, highly atmospheric historical drama based on fact, a book that it is easy to devour in quick smart fashion, with it’s vivid and emotionally drawn characters and a beautifully described sense of place and time.

Alice loses her husband in a tragic accident and having no choice returns home to her brother. Matthew is a strange one, and deeply involved in the local community and wider, whispers of witchcraft abound and it seems no woman is safe from Matthew’s obse
Erin *Proud Book Hoarder*
"For they say what happened, but not what it was like. They say what happened, but they do not say why.”

Witch hunting is one of the most embarrassing pieces of human history. ‘The Witchfinder’s Sister’ is a fictional tale where the author conceives a plausible viewpoint of Matthew Stafford’s sister. This isn’t based on a true story since, while these characters were real, so little is known about them. We do know that during the Essex witch trials between the years of 1645 and 1647, that hundre
BAM Endlessly Booked
A big thank you goes to Beth Underdown, Ballantine Books, and netgalley for this free copy in exchange for an unbiased review.

"Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live"
"Why hast thou forsaken me"

Really a 3.5 one of the better witch hunt novels I've read especially since it's based on different historical perspective

The Civil War of 1640s England is rolling on, and the hunt for witches is strong in the counties. Women are arrested and persecuted for the the most ludicrous reasons, no proof necessar
It's not often I can read a book in one or two sittings but this marvellous book demanded it. Do not miss this!

Apr 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle, 2017
Thank you to Netgalley for an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

4 stars

This is an historical fiction book based on witch trials in Essex England before the Salem witch trials took place in America. I knew nothing of this history going into this book.

Matthew Hopkins was a true witchfinder in 1645 Manningtree, Essex, England. He has a notorious reputation for having condemned so many women of witchcraft. In this novel, his sister Alice has been living in London with her husband, Jo
The Captain
Nov 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Ahoy there mateys! Though this log’s focus is on sci-fi, fantasy, and young adult, this Captain does have broader reading tastes. So occasionally I will share some novels that I enjoyed that are off the charts (a non sci-fi, fantasy, or young adult novel), as it were.

One standard “non-standard for me” genre is historical fiction. While I love history by itself, I enjoy historical fiction for the blending of history and getting to feel like the historical characters are real people. I mean, I kno
Mar 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I always find myself drawn to books about witchcraft. The history of witchcraft and the witch trials is something that has fascinated me for years. When I was a child I visited Clarke Hall in Yorkshire (a wonderful museum that is sadly no longer open) on a school trip, and remember being told a story about a woman who was accused of being a witch because she used herbs to heal. She had to sneak out of Clarke Hall through secret passages and had to climb out of a window on to a horse to escape be ...more
Joanne Harris
A decent page-turner and a well-constructed, engaging story, which mostly failed to chime for me for reasons that may not be important to everyone. One, I felt the narrator's voice was somewhat flat, as well as being a lot more modern in attitude than I would expect of a woman of the time (lots of "this witchcraft business is nonsense, of course", which, though laudable, would not have been the majority opinion). Two, and rather more problematic; the story seems to erase the responsibility of re ...more
I am disappointed. I expected so much more from this book. The premise was super engaging, since all this witchcraft accusations is a very interesting topic, and specially a book focused in better understanding the motivations of one of the "hunters" sounded amazing, but I really didn't get too much from this book.

The premise is the only thing I liked. Here is what I didn't like:

-Slow, and stuck at times. Nothing happened for 180 pages, and that is too much. I don't even know why I didn't give
Apr 12, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
In 1645, Alice Hopkins' husband died in a horrible accident leaving her to return to to the small Essex town of Manningtree where her brother lived to move in with him. Little did Alice know that her brother had changed though with rumors of him having a book of women's names that accused them of witchcraft. With Alice hiding a pregnancy she slowing begins to uncover the darker side of her brother Matthew.

The Witchfinder's Sister is a fictional tale based on the real person Matthew Hopkins. Mat
Zuky the BookBum
I think now that to be close to someone can be to underestimate them. Grow too close, and you do not see what they are capable of; or you do not see it in time.

The Witchfinder’s Sister is based on true life witch hunter Matthew Hopkins that grew to fame during the English Civil War around East Anglia, hunting and killing “witches”. This book isn’t non-fiction, it’s fiction based around non-fiction! I love these sorts of books that create their own stories from something that was very much re
Nov 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This fictional account based on a real event in history is told through the eyes of Alice Hopkins, Matthew’s sister (or half-sister to be exact). Matthew’s mother (by now recently deceased) was her father’s second wife and with her older brothers having left home, Alice and her younger sibling formed a close bond with Alice being protective of Matthew. Badly scarred from fire burns as a baby Matthew’s life was not an easy one but he had seemed to find his own way as an adult and was well respect ...more
Lisa *OwlBeSatReading*
4.5 stars rounded up to 5

Every time I read a historical fiction book, I'm reminded just how fascinating English history is, and that I absolutely bloody love this genre!

Beth Underdown has done a superb job of writing her debut novel based on true events surrounding the fear and intrigue of Witchcraft in seventeenth century England. The story is based on the life of the 1640s Witchfinder Matthew Hopkins, with the main protagonist being his sister, Alice.

The authors writing style created such fee
Theresa Alan
Mar 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
I’ve been fascinated with “witches” being burned or hanged as a way to control women for whatever reason for a long time, so I was excited to read this historical novel by Beth Underdown. It’s told from the point of view of the sister of the embittered Mathew Hopkins, who found a legal way to murder women.

Hopkins was a real man, but much else of the story was conjecture or fabrication on the part of Underdown because there was so little documentation to go on. Still, it makes for a fascinating s
Lucy Banks
Feb 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I received a copy of this book from Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

A fabulously strong debut, focusing on witchcraft in the 17th century.

I really enjoyed this book. It centres on Alice, a recently widowed woman who returns to live with her brother - a relatively taciturn, unpleasant individual who happens to be on a mission to condemn as many woman as possible to death for witchcraft.

Based loosely on real events, it's an engrossing account of life in the 17th century, and the supers
Jul 20, 2017 rated it liked it
This book is very slow and the main character keeps a low profile all throughout it, she does surprises you towards the end and that's what redeemed this book in my eyes. We are mostly shown the main character life through the eyes of his brother , the supposedly "witch finder " , we learn of his upbringing and how it connects to who he is currently. We see the impotence the mc feels at the suffering of innocent women being accused of being witches, yet not being able to help for fear of her sta ...more
Mar 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book kept me fully engaged as shameful witch hunts take place from 1626-1627 in England. This is historical fiction, but the book is well-researched and Matthew Hopkins actually did send those labelled as witches to their deaths. Alice, his sister, is fictional. I found the story horrifying and it is so well-written the scenes and characters are vividly clear. 5 stars for me - and I think it's a first novel for Beth Underdown.

Thanks to Random House Publishing - Ballantine through NetGalley
Roman Clodia
Dec 14, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Set in 1645, this takes an interestingly slanted perspective on Matthew Hopkins, the notorious self-styled Witchfinder General. The story is told by his half-sister Alice who returns to Manningtree in Essex to find her brother embroiled in accusations of malice, spelling and witchcraft aimed mostly, though not exclusively, at women.

This is not an unfamiliar story but Underdown approaches it with a welcome lack of sensationalism. She keeps her canvas relatively small and domestic, exploring the
Karen Whittard
Mar 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
The witch finders sister

I love history. I love finding out about history. I especially love it when it is about true events and real life people. I have always been fascinated by the witch hunts and I would love to go to Salem to find out more.

This story is set in 1640s in Manningtree England. Which was the original place that witch hunting started before it went to Salem. Alice Hopkins returns to Manningtree after her husband has died with a little child. Obviously back then Alice has no mone
MaryannC. Book Freak
The Witchfinder's Sister takes place in the Essex Town Manningtree, England during the 1640's where young Alice returns home after the tragic death of her husband to find that her brother, Matthew has become a prominent but mostly feared man in the community. Trying to settle in and forget the painful memories of her husband, Alice discovers that her brother is a Witchfinder, a man who seeks out persons accused of practicing Witchcraft to torture and ultimately force a confession. Upon learning ...more
Feb 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc-netgalley
I received this ARC from in exchange for a review.

London 1645, Alice is several months pregnant and suddenly widowed. She returns home to her brother Matthew who is engaging in a witch hunt and has gathered many names which he has written in 'a great book'. Alice unsuccessfully attempts to escape her brother before he can drag her with him on hunts and ultimately forces her to become involved in his dreadful business.

I didn't realize until the end of the book that Matthew Hopkins
Jan 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ng
Surely one of the best novels of 2017, absolutely stunning read where to be a woman in 1645, was a daily grind and if you spoke out of place or your name was out there as a witch your days were numbered highly recommend you read this novel
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