The Witchfinder’s Sister

The Witchfinder's SisterThe Witchfinder’s Sister by Beth Underdown

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Witchfinder’s Sister imagines what it would have been like if the Witchfinder, Matthew Hopkins had had a sister. Hopkins may well have had a sister, it is known that he came from a large family but not much else is known about his personal life and this is a fictionalised account. It asks a lot of questions, such as what would make a man persecute women like that and if he had a sister, how would she feel about it? Reading the book, you certainly had to feel for women in the seventeenth century; Hopkins’ sister, Alice is newly widowed and dependent on her brother for help, even when it turns out that he’s developed an unhealthy interest in witchcraft. Hopkins goes about persecuting any woman who is different, old or inconvenient, scapegoats for anything that goes wrong. I thought it was particularly interesting how, in the book, women turned on women too. This book may have been set in the seventeenth century but you can feel the echoes of misogyny and persecution of the ‘different’ today.

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The Witchfinder’s Sister inspired me to practice my currently very rusty drawing skills on a piece of rosemary from my garden. I think if ‘witches’ could do anything, they knew which herbs did what, which was very useful considering there wasn’t any other medicine and I think that it’s a bit sad that we’ve forgotten a bit, exactly what plants can do for us.

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