This book is based in Manningtree between 1645-1647 - the height of the witch trials in England. The main character is Alice, the fictional sister to the infamous witch hunter Matthew Hopkins and shows her journey through life in his shadow. It provides a chilling insight into a society corrupted by fear and prejudice, whilst the emotional description of her thoughts delivers an insider perspective. Even though this work is largely fictional, it is based on fact: perhaps due to Underdown’s connection through her historian father.

I really enjoyed and recommend this book even despite the sinister feeling it gave me, especially walking around my home village that is an epicentre of witchcraft. The superstition surrounding older single women in the time is generally attributed to the lack of education and knowledge, as well as providing a stark reminder of the societal expectations. The Witchfinder’s sister gives a new viewpoint on a partly-forgotten ‘historical tragedy’ (Melanie Benjamin) as Alice discovers family secrets and the lack of humanity her brother seems to possess. The very real Matthew Hopkins sent over 100 women to their death throughout his career.

Although a heart-breaking read, Underdown has done a fantastic job of blending fact and fiction, made all the more poignant with the knowledge that most of the names and stories contained in this book are genuine.

“Vivid and terrifying” – Paula Hawkins, author of Girl on the Train

“A compelling debut from a gifted storyteller” – Sarah Perry, author of The Essex Serpent

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