Review: The Witchfinder's Sister by Beth Underdown

The Witchfinder's Sister - Beth Underdown


I would like to thank Penguin Books for providing me with an advanced reading copy of this book.


The Witch Finder's Sister is a fictional tale based on the life of Matthew Hopkins - a witch hunter believed to have been responsible for the deaths of 300 women between the years 1644 and 1646. The story is told through the eyes of his sister Alice who experiences his obsession first hand and recounts the tale to the reader.


Initially, when I first started reading the book I thought I was going to love it. The writing style appealed to me, it felt like Alice was talking directly to me and I was excited to read more. But, unfortunately, it didn't live up to my expectations. It concentrated too much on Alice's emotions, inner thoughts, and memories. She was a bystander lost within her own past and present, looking in rather than looking out at the horror of what was actually taking place. There were so many missed opportunities to escalate the storyline and to ramp up the tension, but they were missed because of the way the storyline advanced in regards to Alice's character.


As a reader, I only got little peeks into the true horrors of what Matthew was doing. Right before the witch hunts approached their worst, just when things were starting to get interesting and were really about to kick off, the author decided to lock Alice in the attic, which of course resulted in the reader being locked in that attic alongside Alice.


What happened in that dark attic? Not much at all - meanwhile, Matthew and his witch trials are causing chaos. The trials are approaching their worst, hundreds of women are being killed, months of mayhem and murder are taking place, and the reader is sat in the dark with Alice. There was so much going on outside that attic that the reader was excluded from, all the chaos and horrors that would have made this a book to remember, and instead we're given a just few pages of Alice in the dark. What a let down that was.


The book is categorised by the publisher as being adult general fiction, mystery, and thriller, but to be honest there wasn't much mystery or thrills to be found. The pacing was very slow, there wasn't enough action, and characters were hard to connect with. The ending, in particular, had me rolling my eyes.


Not one I would recommend. The blurb and the cover quotes promised much and delivered little.




Reviews also posted to my blog: Scarlet's Web
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