Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Darkest Shore” as Want to Read:
The Darkest Shore
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Darkest Shore

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  484 ratings  ·  83 reviews
The independent women of Scotland stand up to a witch hunt, male fury and the power of the Church in a battle for survival in this compelling historical novel based on true events in early eighteenth century Scotland.

1703: The wild east coast of Scotland.
Returning to her home town of Pittenweem, fishwife and widow Sorcha McIntyre knows she faces both censure and mistrust.
ebook, 528 pages
Published March 1st 2020 by HQ Fiction
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Darkest Shore, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Darkest Shore

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.08  · 
Rating details
 ·  484 ratings  ·  83 reviews

Sort order
Start your review of The Darkest Shore
Sorcha McIntyre was unsure of her reception once she returned to her hometown of Pittenweem after an absence of years, but was pleasantly surprised at the welcome she received, at least from her women friends. The fishwives of Pittenweem were a strong, hardworking group of women who spent their days on the shore on the east coast of Scotland, mending the fishing nets and many other chores from dawn to dusk. Nettie, the good friend who had been living in Sorcha’s home while she was away, kept Sor ...more
Jennifer (JC-S)
‘Someone had to bear witness.’

In 1703, Sorcha McIntyre returns to her hometown of Pittenweem, on Scotland’s east coast. Pittenweem is a small fishing village, steeped in legend, tradition and superstition. Sorcha is a widow and a fishwife, whose defiance of custom will prove dangerous.

A young local lad falls ill. A victim of witchcraft, according to Reverend Cowper and some of the local villagers. In the ensuing hysteria, several women are named witches, imprisoned and tortured. The Reverend Cow
Theresa Smith
Feb 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley, aww2020
History is rife with examples of humans doing their worst. When you read as much historical fiction as I do, you have occasion to come across this fairly regularly. Even so, I’m still pulled up at times by history that has been buried deep in the hopes that it may not ever be discovered and pulled out into the light. And so it is with the 1704 witch hunt of Pittenweem, the history that this incredible novel, The Darkest Shore, is based upon. This is a dark read, with human nature exposed at its ...more
Amanda - Mrs B's Book Reviews

4.5 stars

'Wasn’t that what the fishwives were? Sisters of the sea.’Twas the sea and its siren call and the men whom they cleaved that made the sisters of all the fishwives, regardless of who their mothers were, where they hailed from, and whether their husbands, fathers or brothers were alive or dead. Once a fishwife, always a fishwife.’

Sometimes history turns dark corners. In The Darkest Shore, the latest novel from Karen Books, a group of women rebel again
Shelleyrae at Book'd Out
The Darkest Shore by Karen Brooks is a compelling, fascinating, and disturbing historical fiction novel inspired by true events.

“Twas the sea and its siren call and the men to whom they cleaved that made sisters of all the fishwives, regardless of who their mothers were, where they hailed from, and whether their husbands, fathers or brothers were alive or dead.”

The story begins on Hogmanay (New Years Eve) 1703 as Sorcha McIntyre returns home to Pittenweem, a small fishing village on the east co
Lisa - (Aussie Girl)
Set in early 18th century Scotland this evocative tale retells an infamous and dark incident of history. The persecution of people but mainly women by men in authority who used superstition and mob mentality to exercise their own power. A slow moving story in parts however the reader will also feel a real sense of indignation and contempt for these supposed Godly men whose accusations of witchcraft will decimate the lives of these women and leave an lasting stain on a whole community.

The author
“Above all, THE DARKEST SHORE is a love-letter to the fishwives and all other ‘wicked women’ out there, a tribute to strong, resourceful women whose boldness and courage, and that of their families and the men who stand by them, is cause for wonder, celebration and commemoration.” Karen Brooks about her book THE DARKEST SHORE

If you like books featuring courageous and strong female characters, then look no further. Karen Brooks’ love-letter to the fishwives, who feature prominently in this stor
Camila - Books Through My Veins
- thanks to @harlequin for sending the book my way💕

I have always been super interested in reading about historical witch trials, especially novels inspired by real events. On this account, The Darkest Shore was a wise choice as the author has undoubtedly done an extensive research to write this book. There is an author's note at the end that thoroughly explains how certain characters were based on some of the people who were involved in the Pittenween witch trials of 1705.

Although historically,
Jul 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Darkest Shore by Karen Brooks is a story set in the town of Pittenweem in Scotland named for its witches and witchcraft.

It's historical fiction based on true events some of which may disturb you as it's a dark and brooding tale.

It's set in a fishing village by the sea where fish abound.

The location is the perfect setting for this witches and fishwives tale.

Isle of May in the distance with a light that shines and twirls brightly over the moonlit ocean.

You'll ride on stormy seas and enjoy the
Elise McCune
Mar 19, 2022 rated it it was amazing
I won this book in a contest and I am very pleased that I did.

I loved 'The Darkest Shore' it's a keeper on my bookshelf. Karen Brooks is that magical person, a born storyteller, and with her very detailed research she brings to life the history of witches when 'the independent women of eighteenth-century Scotland fight a witch hunt and male fury in a battle for survival and freedom in a story based on true events'. Karen Brooks is both historian and novelist but her research rests lightly in th
Apr 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book had my name written all over it! A historical novel set in my fav time period of 1704/05 and in Scotland as well, which is one of my fav settings!!! Yay! I couldn’t wait to dive right in. Australian author Karen Brooks has presented an amazingly well researched, captivating book. Based on true events, this book is about a lot of things, friendship, family, loyalty but so much more as well, imprisonment, injustice and brutal torture! I will admit sometimes I just found it hard to pick t ...more
D.J. Blackmore
Mar 19, 2021 rated it liked it
Much time and dedicated research here for which Karen Brooks must be lauded, and on a topic which I enjoy. Yet I couldn’t help but feel that the book was as drawn out as the inclement Scottish weather. I was disappointed to remain relatively unmoved throughout the majority of the book. The character of the priest was all black, with not a glimmer of gold in his heart. More believable had we been shown at least a zephyr of goodness if only in passing. Nor did the beguiling ‘Sea Witch’ draw me to ...more
Angelique Simonsen
Jul 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is quite dark with the imprisonment and torture of the supposed witches but the character of the reverend really takes the cake.
I'd had given it 5 stars but it ended too sweetly for me with all the characters getting their happily ever after
Helen - Great Reads & Tea Leaves

I have read and enjoyed two Karen Brooks novels before and they have been exceptional. I was therefore eager to try her latest - a tale of witch hunts in eighteenth century Scotland.

This gripping and confrontational tale revolves around a group of women - fishwives - who are accused of being witches. There is a great deal of research that has gone into this fictional adaptation. Based on a true story this is a shocking truth and extremely cruel occurrence. In a world dominated by men and rel
Maddy (maddyandbooks)
“In no other place in Scotland were witches hunted with such fervour as in Pittenweem”.

The Darkest Shore is a historical fiction based on the true events of the witch trials in Pittenweem, Scotland in the 18th Century. Like all Karen Brooks novels, this was very well researched and very detailed. Given that Brooks is a historian as well as novelist, this comes as no surprise. It’s quite a large book that did tend to read at a slow pace but was packed with intrigue and atmosphere (always love a S
Michael Phillips
Apr 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Great historical fiction based on true events of how women were treated long ago. So well researched and compelling reading! I read in 4D these days! Whilst reading this book, I listened to Celtic music & ocean sounds, googled everything and used Google maps to 'walk' around Pittenweem's harbour, streets, church, cemetary, Tolbooth and actually go inside St Fillan's Cave where the witches were imprisoned 300 years ago. Full immersion! LOL I think I was there in a past life! Well done, Karen! Gre ...more
Naomi (aplace_inthesun)
Mar 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arcs
1703 Scotland:- Sorcha McIntyre returns to her cottage in Pittenweem after spending time away at the home of her sister. She left Pittenweem originally to mourn the death of her husband and young son.

On her return Sorcha is reminded of the small mindedness of the locals and suspicions regarding fish wives such as herself being the source of witchcraft, and when a young lad appears to have been cursed, the Reverend Cowper, a thorn in Sorcha’s side from way back, is determined to bring about the r
Jan 24, 2020 rated it really liked it

This is a story based on true events. It is essentially about the imprisonment and torture of a group of women falsely accused of witchcraft.

This story is very dark but also intensely riveting. I couldn’t put it down! I binge read the last 70% in a day. The author has done a fantastic job in creating an authentic and tense atmosphere. The setting is richly detailed without being belabored and feels like it’s own character.

The author has done an exceptional job at creating interesting and w
Lauren Chater
May 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely loved this beautiful story of women’s strength and friendship set in the early 18th century. Full RTC but I will definitely be reading Karen’s next book!
May 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
For me this was a book that I found hard to get into at the beginning, but when I did I didn’t want to put it down, the research that went into this book to tell the story of witch hunts in Pittenween back in the 1700’s was amazing and it is based on a true happening with extra characters added that made this one a story that had me getting emotionally involved and so many emotions, sadness, anger and the ending had me smiling.

It is 1703 in the village of Pittenween on the coast of Scotland and
Deborah I
Apr 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book made me want to visit Pittenweem. The intense and dramatic Fife coast, in my mind, was as bewitching as any of the characters in the book; I find this often happens in novels with a Scottish setting- the sense of place eclipses, yet enhances, the rest of the story. By the end of this novel, I felt a real affection for ‘The Weem’ …it feels like a home I’ve never visited.

The Darkest Shore is a celebration of female friendship and resilience. A study of superstition, religion, and gossip
Apr 15, 2021 rated it really liked it
3.75 ⭐️

Sorcha McIntyre is not in a good place. Her husband and baby are dead and her sister has just kicked her out. With no choice but to return to her hometown of Pittenweem on the east Coast of Scotland, this fishwife knows that life won’t be easy and that very few will be happy to see her back, for in 1703 independent women who don’t know their place breed superstition and accusations of witchcraft.

No one is more displeased about Sorcha’s return than Reverend Cowper. She knows his darkest se
Aug 30, 2021 rated it liked it
Interesting yet distressing to read, it is far too long with too much detail; slow paced for half of plot, at least.

Like author, Fiona McIntosh, every researched aspect of their historical stories are included; in mixing fact with fiction. Further editing is required; some punctuation and dialogue was annoying at times. Some scenes were not necessary and there were far too many characters.

All of the above detracts somewhat and one can easily become disengaged. However, the idea and era, settin
Jul 20, 2020 rated it liked it
A little bit drawn out for me , and skimmed some parts. Good historical fiction ..
Dec 11, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant! Another enjoyable read from Karen Brooks. This book will at various stages make you laugh and cry and feel outraged at the treatment of these amazing women.
Anne Forrest
May 10, 2022 rated it it was ok
An interesting & distressing read,that for me was drawn out & too long.
Meticulously researched & atmospherically written. Gruesome & very dark until the very end.
Warren Gossett
Mar 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
You may savour or be horrified as this story unfolds. Or, like me, madly rush reading page after page breathlessly. Such enjoyment either way.
Hayley (meet_me_at_the_library)
For as long as I can remember I’ve had a fascination with witch-hunts and witch trials, so I was excited when I read the synopsis for this book. The Darkest Shore is based on the witch hunt of Pittenweem, Scotland in the early eighteenth century.

This fascinating story centres around a group of fishwives who are accused of being witches. It celebrates the courage and strength of women in a male dominated world, and shines a light on strong female friendships. In a time where superstition was wove
Debbie Harris
May 08, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This was one of those books I just couldn't stop reading. I wanted to stop believe me because it was so harrowing. I kept gasping out loud and getting angry at the awfulness of the times and the way the women in the story were being treated. The fact that it was based on a true story made me cringe and despair but I had to keep reading. I finished it this morning and made myself stay in bed reading until I had finished it, 10.45am, but thankfully it was a Mother's Day treat to do so.

The story ma
Mar 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This may be Karen Brook's best book yet. I have loved all her previous ones, so with glee I started this. She has captured the fear and menace that witch hunting would bring. The reverend is an evil man, and she shows how he manipulates the people around him. I loved the fish wives. Their strength and love for each other was heart warming. It is easy to see how a town could get whipped into such a frenzy, look at Australia today regarding coronavirus. I also loved the Scottish words and sayings. ...more
« previous 1 3 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Girl, Woman, Other
  • The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming
  • Devotion
  • The Names of the Dead
  • We Are the Weather: Saving the Planet Begins at Breakfast
  • The Cherry Picker's Daughter
  • Laid In Earth (Josef Slonský Investigations #6)
  • The Shining Wall
  • Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America
  • Island Story: Tasmania in Object and Text
  • Our Women on the Ground: Essays by Arab Women Reporting from the Arab World
  • Am I Black Enough For You?
  • Sharks in the Time of Saviors
  • Deadly Still: Is a serial killer on the island? (Inspector Torquil McKinnon #6)
  • Nothing New, A History of Second-Hand
  • Changing Fortunes: A History of the Australian Treasury
  • Red Can Origami
  • The Golden Country: Australia's Changing Identity
See similar books…

News & Interviews

The winter holiday season tends to be a busy one in the romance aisle. To assist you in finding your next hot read to warm up a cold night,...
156 likes · 10 comments