Title: The Daughters of Witching Hill
Author: Mary Sharratt
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication Date: 2010
How I Got It: Library
Mary Sharratt sculpts this historical novel from the real characters and events recorded by Lancashire court clerk Thomas Potts's in his 1613 publication The Wonderfull Discoverie of Witches in the Countie of Lancaster. Cunning woman, Bess Southerns, heals the local animals and citizens of Pendle Forest. Her descendants as well as one of her childhood friends share her abilities, though each have individual strengths. Illegitimate children, changing religions, and individual relationships in a small pastoral community fill the majority of the novel. While most of the Bess's neighbors welcome her and provide work for her family members there are those that that are wary. Only when her granddaughter Alizon is grown do the accusations of witchcraft begin to brew and fingers are pointed.
I personally enjoy books about the Salem witch trials and found this interesting because I don't think I've read anything about England's witch trials. It is interesting to note that the Salem trials were around 1692 and the trials in England were around 1612. Evolving religion and ever-changing rulers brought about similar circumstances continents apart.
Sharratt did a wonderful job showing the juxtaposition of calm country life and the aggressive rule of those in power. Her characters are well rounded and their personalities are detailed. I also find it admirable when an author gives me a character that I "love to hate" and Sharratt does not disappoint when she gives us Jennett.