Thursday 10 February 2022

πŸ“– Publication Book Review ~ The Hemlock Cure by Joanne Burn

Little Brown
10 February 2022

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book

Isabel Frith, the village midwife, walks a dangerous line with her herbs and remedies. There are men in the village who speak of witchcraft, and Isabel has a past to hide. So she tells nobody her fears about Wulfric, the pious, reclusive apothecary.

Mae, Wulfric's youngest daughter, dreads her father's rage if he discovers what she keeps from him. Like her feelings for Rafe, Isabel's ward, or the fact that she studies from Wulfric's books at night.

But others have secrets too. Secrets darker than any of them could have imagined.

When Mae makes a horrifying discovery, Isabel is the only person she can turn to. But helping Mae will place them both in unimaginable peril.

And meanwhile another danger is on its way from London. One that threatens to engulf them all.

πŸ“– My Review..

Although rurally isolated, the Derbyshire village of Eyam did not escape the pestilence when it arrived from London in 1665 and for those who called this rural backwater home it was to be a time of great fear and isolation. Isabel Frith is the village midwife whose interaction with Wulfric, the belligerent, and deeply religious, village apothecary, is fraught with challenge and distrust. 

Caught in the middle is Wulfric's daughter, Mae, who only wishes to be allowed to work alongside her father, using the medicinal skills her deceased mother passed on to her. Wulfric, however, has little time for his daughter, nor of the secrets which swirl and scatter around him and which place Mae in as much danger from her father as from the plague which steals over them. That there is no love lost between Wulfric and Isabel is obvious from the offset, and with accusations of witchcraft screaming in the air,  the deadly secret which festers between them is set to destroy one, or other, of them. 

Well researched, and wonderfully atmospheric, we imagine the desperation of those caught by the disease in a time when the use of plants and herbal remedies stood little chance against such a fearsome contagion. What happened to the villagers of Eyam in the momentous year of the plague is well documented, their self imposed isolation in order to safe the neighbouring villages is as admirable today as it was then, no doubt saving the lives of many people in the neighbouring communities. 

The Hemlock Cure brings history, and the village of Eyam, alive in a very special way.

Best Read with ... fresh bread, sweet with honey and a jug of really strong ale.

About the Author

A lover of words and the wild outdoors, Joanne Burn lives in the Peak District where she works as a writing coach, and blogs about the joys and challenges of the creative process.

Twitter @Joanne_Burn #TheHemlockCure

@LittleBrownUK @booksphere

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