Based on the most notorious of English witch-trials, this is a tale of magic, superstition, conscience and ruthless murder.
It is set in a time when politics and religion were closely intertwined; when, following the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, every Catholic conspirator fled to a wild and untamed place far from the reach of London law.
This is Lancashire. This is Pendle. This is witch country.
Recommend this book
Add your recommendation
Only registered users can recommend books. Please use the buttons below to either create a new account, or sign-in to an existing account.
If you like her other novels, you will adore this. She has done her homework... the beauty of the writing, exemplary in its pared-down simplicity. It’s so seductive that by the middle I was hooked.
Sharp-eyed view of history... Winterson is at her best her when she’s dealing with real horrors. - Observer
This is a dazzling book. Winterson is a deft storyteller and a writer of wonderful economy. Even in a book as melodramatic as this, she manages to convey character and setting with so few words that you scarcely notice it has been done... Winterson does all that any Hammer reader would want - and probably too much for some squeamish types - as well as writing a novel of subtlety and depth. It is also, amid the blood, mud and violence, intensely poetic. The imagery of the wild land with its dark towers and possessed creatures - animal and human - underpins a story about love and death and the possibility of unseen worlds. It is one of the very few contemporary novels that I actually wished were longer. - Literary Review
This I ought to say, is a book worth reading – utterly compulsive, thick with atmosphere and dread, but sharp intelligence too...Ultimately she combines compelling history and poetic dialogue with suspense...This rather more sophisticated story would make a particularly vivid film. - Telegraph
Beautifully written. - Independent on Sunday
It is also one of the lead titles in the launch of Hammer books, and boy have they hit the ground at a most appropriate run. While it doesn't seem to be the typical Jeanette Winterson novel, it does feature religious intolerance and lesbian sex, and neither are new to her oeuvre. Nor is a northern setting, nor a look at the bending of truth and fantasy, and the wish-fulfilment of those wanting more. So this is not just a case of an author following a commission, but it almost seems to be, so brilliantly has Winterson followed the Hammer tradition. Here are black masses, dark spells, heaving bosoms and evil not as some tremendous CGI effect, but starting from something as base as bigotry. Only the fact the characters seem like real people and not stereotypical yokels stops this from creating that lost Hammer classic in the reader's mind. - The Bookbag
Told with the author’s usual aplomb and should appeal to her many fans. - Daily Mail
This dark story with its fantastical trappings of magick and mysticism, its strong women and wild, Lancastrian setting is Winterson’s natural habitat and she maps it with relish, weaving Shakespearean themes of ambiguous love affairs conducted by shape-shifting, androgynous lovers around the dire squalor superstition and sheer desperation revealed by the bleak facts of the trial...Filled with Winterson’s characteristic intelligence and energy... lively and enjoyable. - New Statesman
Winterson lavishly embroiders a tale rich in Gothic supernatural touches... In a feverish climate, where fear of women and their sexuality often translated into rape and persecution, Winterson creates a deliciously dreadful tale that cleverly blurs the line between real and imagined horror. - Metro
Shocking, grizzly, heartbreaking and very compelling. - Diva
This is horror for the thinking person. A beautiful lady upon a white horse rides through Pendle Woods. It’s the reign of James I, when women are burnt for sorcery – and she’s meeting a band of wild women who may or may not be witches. A compelling fictional retelling of the notorious 17th-century Pendle Witches case. - Saga Magazine
Jeanette Winterson OBE is the author of ten novels, including Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit,The Passion and Sexing the Cherry; a book of short stories, The World and Other Places; a collection of essays, Art Objects, a memoir, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?, as well as many other works, including children's books, screenplays and journalism. Her writing has won the Whitbread Award for Best First Novel, the John Llewellyn Rhys Memorial Prize, the E. M. Forster Award and the Prix d'argent at Cannes Film Festival. She lives in London and Gloucestershire.