|Bell Jar Books|
19 September 2023
My thanks to the author, publisher and Random Things Tours
for my copy of this book and the invitation to the blog tour
England, 1673. Still a world of witches, witchfinders and witch trials?
Rose Driver’s mother, brother and grandmother were all put to death by the fanatical witchfinder, John Sharpe.
Almost quarter of a century after the Newcastle witch trials, Sharpe is no longer a threat and Rose should be safe in her quiet village. But is history about to repeat itself?
📖 My Review..
I’ve now followed this trilogy since the first book so was especially excited to be asked to take part in this blog tour to celebrate the final book in the Widdershins series and return to the seventeenth century world which this talented author recreates so beautifully. England in 1673 was still a country which teemed with suspicion and the danger to those women who were suspected of witchcraft hadn’t gone away.
In rural communities where lives were very much caught up in the mysteries of nature some of their more commonplace practices could be seen, by outsiders, as more macabre than they actually were. Moving to Mutton Clog, in the north of England, with her twin brother Earnest, and clergyman father, Patience Leaton is very much an outsider who neither knows nor cares enough to understand the community in which she is forced to live. This is unfortunate for Rose Driver, a young and rather beautiful shepherdess, who catches the eye of Earnest Leaton, and in doing so antagonises the staunchly puritan, Patience with dire consequences.
In two very distinctive voices both Rose and Patience have a story to tell which, very quickly unravels, becoming darker and more dangerous especially when Patience discovers something about Rose and Earnest which unleashes the very worst behaviour imaginable. Rose’s character I loved from the beginning, and her fate becomes all the more poignant as the story progresses. Patience definitely tried my patience, she really is a piece of work and all credit to the author for allowing the darkness in Patience’s soul to evolve with such evil precision.
The dark and dangerous mid-seventeenth century rural world is beautifully recreated by an author who really does bring history alive. With every well placed word, and descriptive phrase, it is possible to step back in time to the rural backwater of Mutton Clog, where superstitious practices have been in place for centuries however, when viewed by the wrong person, at the wrong time, these practices can be entirely misinterpreted as having the dark forces of evil at their core.
With its abiding air of sadness and a definite sense of the injustice towards those innocent of any wrongdoing Solstice is an excellent conclusion to this fascinating trilogy. This will definitely be on my book of the year list for 2023.
About the Author
Helen Steadman's first novel, Widdershins and its sequel, Sunwise were inspired by the 1650 Newcastle witch trials. Her third novel, The Running Wolf is about a group of master swordmakerswho defected from Germany to England in 1687. Helen's fourth novel, God of Fire, is a Greek myth retelling as seen through the eyes of Hephaestus, perhaps the least well known of all the Olympians. Helen is particularly interested in revealing hidden histories and she is a thorough researcher who goes to great lengths in pursuit of historical accuracy. To get under the skin of the cunning women in Widdershins and Sunwise, Helen trained in herbalism and learned how to identify, grow and harvest plants and then made herbal medicines from bark, seeds, flowers and berries.The Running Wolf is the story of a group of master swordmakers who left Solingen, Germany and moved to Shotley Bridge, England in 1687. As well as carrying out in-depth archive research and visiting forges in Solingen to bring her story to life, Helen also undertook blacksmith training, which culminated in making her own sword.
X@hsteadman1650 #Solstice #WiddershinsTrilogy