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Her Kind: The gripping story of Ireland’s first witch hunt

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  237 ratings  ·  49 reviews
'Gripping ... a complicated story of loss, ambition, misogyny, family love and what it means to belong ... evocative and atmospheric' Irish Times

'Beautifully written and transports us to the 14th century, though its themes loudly resonate today' Eileen Dunne,

'A beautifully absorbing novel, illuminating the remarkable story of a woman whose life has since been su
Paperback, 308 pages
Published April 4th 2019 by Penguin Ireland
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Average rating 3.71  · 
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 ·  237 ratings  ·  49 reviews

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Start your review of Her Kind: The gripping story of Ireland’s first witch hunt
Amalia Gavea
‘’Our eyes will go to the worms
And our livers will be given as food to the parish dogs.
The hair will be torn from our heads
The flesh flayed from our bones.
They’ll find apple seeds and gooseberry skins
In the remains of our vomit
When we are damned, my sisters.’’
Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill (translated by Michael Hartnett)

When something becomes ‘’fashionable’’, quality goes down the drain. Nowhere is this more clearly demonstrated than poor Literature which is viciously disregarded of late. I have come
I received this book in exchange for an honest review from Penguin Ireland.

It's 1324 and Bébinn and Líadan arrive in Kilkennie (Kilkenny) seeking refuge from the wilds of Ireland with an old friend of Bébinn. Moneylender Alice takes in the mother and daughter as her new servants, and gives them new names - Petronella and Basilia - to protect them from Gaelic-haters in the town. But the pair soon find that they may also be in danger in Alice's house as the town bishop is jealous of the moneylende
Liz Barnsley
Jun 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Her Kind was a beautifully written literary delight, an imagined tale of some very real events, as such it was riveting and hugely immersive.
I had no previous knowledge of the Kilkenny Witch Trial so this was a blind read for me but Niamh Boyce captures such a sense of the place and time, setting the reader firmly in the moment and examining the life and struggles of some very intriguing women. Descriptively speaking this is a wonderful read and emotionally speaking it is hugely resonant…an echo
Vikki Patis
Mar 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
There seems to have been an increase of late in the amount of books written during a time where accusations of witchcraft were rife. I really enjoy books set during such periods, and am particularly enjoying the feminist perspective on the topic.

Her Kind was a gripping read, drawing me into the character's lives and allowing an insight into the time period. A brilliant writer and absorbing storyline.
Mar 29, 2019 rated it liked it
I was provided with a digital ARC of this book by NetGalley and the publishing houses, Penguin Books (UK) and Penguin Ireland, in exchange for an honest review.

I was really happy I had to chance to read "Her Kind". I'm a big historical fiction fan (and nerd), and I am also fascinated by everything regarding witches in history, such as witch trials and folklore. So I was really curious to dive into this novel.
"Her Kind" is inspired by a true story, the witch trial in Kilkenny (Ireland) in 1324. I
Eithne  Murray
Apr 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I've been looking forward to reading this book for a long time and I wasn't disappointed. Oddly enough I always thought it was Alice Kyteler who was executed, and so did many others, considering the number of pub quizzes where the question arose. (By the way that is the spelling on the pub, Kyteler's Inn).
The characters were well drawn, particularly Alice. The voice of Petronella was earthy, and at times raunchy, although I did think this was not sustained. However that might have been me and th
Inishowen Cailín
Apr 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The Kilkenny Witch Trial of 1324 and the story Alice Kytler and her maidservant Petronelle was a slice of Irish history of which I had no previous knowledge. My graduate studies were centred on the 1500's to the the twentieth century but this book has really inspired me to learn more about our medieval past.

I found it fascinating that a woman like Alice could be so successful and powerful in her time. She was married four times, was a moneylender and held considerable wealth. Was she typical for
Rebecca Ambrose
Mar 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Her Kind is a novel which can be compared to the tapestry so often referred to in the novel itself. Various threads of stories and characters come together, interweave and eventually paint an inevitable picture. Woven around historical fact, the story however is one which could take place (which elemental alterations) even now.
The inevitably of the story is that you suspect how it will end, ever before you reach the climax, not because the story isn't complex enough, but the gist of the story i
Finn Longman
I mostly enjoyed this, but felt there were maybe too many different POVs and I'd probably have been more emotionally invested if it had been slightly more focused. It was an interesting glimpse into a bit of history I know nothing about, though.
Orla McAlinden
I have visited Kilkenny and have seen the tiny mediaeval streets where Alice Kytler and her servant Petronelle walked and carried out their business.
This novel has so many things to recommend it... meticulous research, very lightly borne, beautiful writing and a fabulous story of which very little is known, allowing the author free rein to explore a very credible origin story for Petronelle de Midia, the first woman in Ireland, and one of the first in Europe to be burned as a witch.
From the Pa
Jul 14, 2019 rated it liked it
Check out this review and more on my blog!

I received a copy of Her Kind from Penguin Random House Ireland in exchange for an honest review.

If there’s one thing I love, it’s historical fiction that explores the history of witchcraft and witch trials. Her Kind introduced me to a medieval witch trial I’d somehow never heard of before, the Kilkenny Witch Trial, and I’m honestly quite mad at myself that I’d never come across it before.

Part of that, I think, is down to the way the history of witch tri
Joanne O'Brien
Oct 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Wow! What an amazing book! I was transported by the exquisite writing talent of Niamh Boyce to a world I never knew existed. I could picture every scene and found myself completely absorbed, picturing every scene such was the brilliance of Boyce’s use of expression and language of the time. The story was dark yet fascinating and you get a great sense of life at this time and the events leading up to the Kilkennie Witch Trials of 1324. I was taken along, intrigued by the personalities in the book ...more
Rose Servitova
Nov 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant, earthy, heart-wrenching and beautiful. Characters were drawn in fine detail - a moving and poignant account of a frightening time in our past. Highly recommend.
Lorna Sixsmith
Apr 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: historical
I loved how this book gave a voice to three (and more) women previously hidden in history, and as said by another reviewer, if it wasn’t for the fact that Alice Kyteler had been accused of witchcraft, we would never have known about her economic success - goodness knows how many other successful business women in the medieval period have been hidden from us.
Boyce’s Kyteler is not a saint. She’s ruthless, resourceful and fights back as well as she can. Her maid and her niece, in my opinion, are
Ann Brogan
May 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
The one-star review by Amalia Gavea is jaundiced and terribly unfair. Don't let it put you off, this is a great book.
Abby Slater- Fairbrother
Jun 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Where was the maid of Dame Alice Kytler?’

The novel opens in 1324 Kilkenny, Ireland. There are a wealth of various characters from Bishop Ledrede to Dame Alice and the humble servants such as Petronelle De Midia. We become aware that Alice and Petronelle have a shared past which is shrouded in secrecy. A past they must never speak of…

‘If only it was as easy to stop dreaming as it was to stop speaking’ – Basilia

Basilia is Petronelle’s daughter whom must portray herself as a mute. Which becomes mor
Aug 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020
This book vividly transported me to medieval Ireland, an era I’m not familiar with. Being familiar with the streets of Kilkenny & it’s historical buildings I felt I was walking those streets in the 1300s taking in the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of everyday life of a society made up of Norman’s, English, Flemish & native Irish.
Based on true events, the author weaves together a story of strong women in a patriarchal society deemed to be witches by church hierarchy & how one mans word & act
Caroline Sutherland
Jun 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Reading Her Kind was a joy. Drawn into the mysterious world of Medieval Kilkenny, along its narrow streets, under its archways, up to the Cathedral and back down to Kyteler's House one could feel that you were actually there. The escaping bees, the mussel-pearl fishing boys, the monks and other characters, that act as backdrop to one of the most sensational events that happened in the city, are woven through major events with a skill that only a master story teller such as this could achieve.
Doreen Finn
Jul 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A seriously good book. I loved it, from the story, which had me riveted, to the characters of the women. Superb.
Linda Coyle
Jul 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Beautifully told, great story, wonderful attention to detail, transported back in time
Jun 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Excellent historical fiction based on actual events in 14th century Ireland 🇮🇪 and should be a part of any feminist reading list.
Niamh Ennis
Jul 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book resonates through time; women still to some degree being prosecuted by the court of public opinion. But it also revealed to me a history i had only a slim knowledge of, and was very evocative of its time. This made it a bit dull on occasion, the slow simmering of the story's progression could have been shortened somewhat. However for the main part it was interesting, and the characters were believable and 3d,even the most good and naive of characters were at times irritating, like regu ...more
Vicki Antipodean Bookclub
May 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Her Kind is inspired by the Kilkenny witch trials of 1324. Bishop Richard de Ledrede is a man plagued by women; by glimpses of the church's anchoress contained in her small cell, by the wealthy money lender Dame Alice Kytler who does not need or require his blessing, but mostly by his sexual desire of women that cannot or should not be fulfilled. A "bitter old man," Ledrede seeks to control the populace of Hightown, wresting control from Alice who owns the allegiance of the town and most of its ...more
May 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: drama
This is a good, solid drama with interesting characters. And, there was a twist to it that I did not see coming.
May 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
There are few books written about this time period in Ireland, even fewer from a woman's perspective. Niamh offers a wonderful glimpse into the 14th century, weaving a tale that is both captivating and engrossing.
Frank Parker
Apr 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It is six years since the release of Boyce's award winning debut, The Herbalist. In a recent newspaper interview she claimed the first draft of Her Kind was completed in 2014. The time between was taken up with revision and the long time-scales of the traditional publishing process. As another reviewer has said, it was well worth the wait.
Boyce has taken real events from the fourteenth century and crafted from them a highly imaginative fantasy. In dong so, she has given us a version of those eve
Helen Hollick
Jul 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book has received a Discovering Diamonds Review:
Helen Hollick
founder #DDRevs

"This book is laced with period detail, mystery, and an atmosphere of danger prevails throughout. "
Laura King
Apr 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
courtney lynn (reorganizedreads)
While this depicts the witch trials of Kilkennie in 1324, this is more than just a story about witches. Almost from the start there is a mysterious air to Petronelle and her daughter, Basilia. Why would one of the most powerful dame's in the county, allow two less fortunate souls seek refuge in her house when she is in the business of keeping those in her company in debt? We discover the real reason behind Dame Alice Kytler's motives as the story unfolds along with her shared history with Petron ...more
Apr 17, 2019 rated it liked it
Her Kind is an enigmatic tale that reveals very little at first. This encouraged me to watch each character’s conduct and it was interesting to compare the opinions I’d formed at the beginning with those toward the end.

The narration alternates between the stoic ‘Petronelle’ and her silent daughter, ‘Basilia’, to recount their differing perception of a household that demands they change their identity and make no mention of their past.

With only the reader able to hear ‘Basilia’s’ thoughts, he
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Niamh Boyce was the 2012 Hennessy XO New Irish Writer of the Year, her debut novel The Herbalist won Newcomer of the Year at the Irish Book Awards 2013, and was long listed for an IMPAC Award. Her short stories have been anthologized in The Long Gaze Back and The Hennessy Anthology.

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