Note: Thank you to the publisher, Catapult, for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
England, 1643. Parliament is battling the King; the war between the Roundheads and the Cavaliers rages. Puritanical fervour has gripped the nation, and the hot terror of damnation burns black in every shadow.
In Manningtree, depleted of men since the wars began, the women are left to their own devices. At the margins of this diminished community are those who are barely tolerated by the affluent villagers – the old, the poor, the unmarried, the sharp-tongued. Rebecca West, daughter of the formidable Beldam West, fatherless and husbandless, chafes against the drudgery of her days, livened only by her infatuation with the clerk John Edes. But then newcomer Matthew Hopkins, a mysterious, pious figure dressed from head to toe in black, takes over The Thorn Inn and begins to ask questions about the women of the margins. When a child falls ill with a fever and starts to rave about covens and pacts, the questions take on a bladed edge.
The Manningtree Witches plunges its readers into the fever and menace of the English witch trials, where suspicion, mistrust and betrayal ran amok as the power of men went unchecked and the integrity of women went undefended. It is a visceral, thrilling book that announces a bold new talent.
At times, I found myself incredibly interested in the story but, for most of the book, I found myself zoning out. I found the initial chapters more interesting than the rest of the book; although there were some interesting parts later on, as well. I felt like the witch hunt and trial dragged on; it should be the most interesting part, but I really zoned out during those chapters. I think the writing is beautiful but I don’t think it helps with the tone of the book. I was expecting to feel the anger, hopelessness, insanity, etc. of the characters but I didn’t really feel anything, and it was just very underwhelming. The characters were interesting but they weren’t developed very well so I didn’t find myself caring about them.
Overall, it felt like a tedious read and I wished I loved the actual story as much as I loved its synopsis.
Genre(s): Adult, Historical Fiction, Paranormal
Release Date: August 10, 2021