The Witchfinder’s Sister by Beth Underdown
Beth Underdown’s The Witchfinder’s Sister is based on the life of England’s notorious Witchfinder-General, Matthew Hopkins
The Witchfinder’s Sister
“Nine months ago, my brother Matthew set himself to killing women.” Widowed and pregnant, Alice Hopkins returns from London to her East Anglian home in search of sanctuary.
Instead she finds her brother, maimed since falling into a fire as a baby, has become every bit as sinister as his outward appearance would then have suggested. Based on the life of England’s notorious Witchfinder-General, Matthew Hopkins, Underdown has successfully recreated a frightening 17th century world inhabited by “bands of young men” who go “from village to village, smashing things, setting fire wherever Catholics were whispered to live”.
This is a meticulous study of how fear, marginalisation and abuse of power can lead to untold tragedy – in one particularly disturbing scene, women are packed into a courtroom to be tried for witchcraft, with an appeal to male misconceptions of female weakness or insanity their only hope of escape.
An impressive debut novel, The Witchfinder’s Sister is both a sobering account of the power wielded by men over women and an timely warning from the past to the present.