The Witchfinder's Sister by Beth Underdown
A Novel

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Beth Underdown knows her history, but in this ominous, claustrophobic novel the past is haunted by the possibilities of our frightening present.
-NY Times


“This is a novel for our times. . . . The Witchfinder’s Sister [lays] bare the visceral horror of what a witch hunt truly is.”—The New York Times Book Review (Editors’ Choice)

“Vivid and terrifying.”—Paula Hawkins, author of The Girl on the Train and Into the Water

“Connects nicely with such dystopian classics as 1984 and The Handmaid’s Tale.”—Booklist

Essex, England, 1645. With a heavy heart, Alice Hopkins returns to the small town she grew up in. Widowed, with child, and without prospects, she is forced to find refuge at the house of her younger brother, Matthew. In the five years she has been gone, the boy she knew has become a man of influence and wealth—but more has changed than merely his fortunes. Alice fears that even as the cruel burns of a childhood accident still mark his face, something terrible has scarred Matthew’s soul.

There is a new darkness in the town, too—frightened whispers are stirring in the streets, and Alice’s blood runs cold with dread when she discovers that Matthew is a ruthless hunter of suspected witches. Torn between devotion to her brother and horror at what he’s become, Alice is desperate to intervene—and deathly afraid of the consequences. But as Matthew’s reign of terror spreads, Alice must choose between her safety and her soul.

Alone and surrounded by suspicious eyes, Alice seeks out the fuel firing her brother’s brutal mission—and is drawn into the Hopkins family’s past. There she finds secrets nested within secrets: and at their heart, the poisonous truth. Only by putting her own life and liberty in peril can she defeat this darkest of evils—before more innocent women are forced to the gallows.

Inspired by the real-life story of notorious “Witchfinder General” Matthew Hopkins, Beth Underdown’s thrilling debut novel blends spellbinding history with harrowing storytelling for a truly haunting reading experience.

Praise for The Witchfinder’s Sister

“Entertaining and thought-provoking—with a valuable message for our own times.”—The Washington Post

“This satisfyingly suspenseful book should appeal strongly to readers who enjoyed other witchcraft-themed historical fiction; it will also attract those who like such novels as Jessie Burton’s The Miniaturist that feature female protagonists resisting restrictive social roles to do a little sleuthing about the men in their lives. Highly recommended.”—Library Journal (starred review)

“This debut historical novel is a well-written dramatization of witch hunting in Europe during the seventeenth century. . . . An entertaining yarn for readers who can’t get enough of the subject matter.”—Publishers Weekly

“Gripping . . . The Witchfinder’s Sister gives a long-forgotten historical tragedy a fresh, feminist spin.”—Melanie Benjamin, New York Times bestselling author of The Swans of Fifth Avenue

About Beth Underdown

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BETH UNDERDOWN studied English Literature at the University of York, where she began to write whilst an intern at arts and culture magazine Aesthetica. After moving on to an editorial position at Phaidon Press, Beth graduated with distinction from the University of Manchester’s Creative Writing MA. She now lives in the Peak District, not too far from where she was born. The sense of history in that landscape is an important catalyst for her work.Beth’s interest in seventeenth-century England was sparked by the work of her great-uncle David Underdown, who pioneered the study of its ordinary people and ordinary lives. Reading about the seventeenth century led Beth to want to capture the spirit of the bloody and exciting atmosphere of change during the often-overlooked period of the English Civil War.She came across Matthew Hopkins while reading a book about seventeenth-century midwifery. As you do.
Author Residence: Manchester, England
Author Hometown: Manchester, England
Published April 25, 2017 by Ballantine Books. 336 pages
Genres: History, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction. Fiction
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Reviewed by Helen Castor on May 22 2017

Beth Underdown knows her history, but in this ominous, claustrophobic novel the past is haunted by the possibilities of our frightening present.

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