Today we have a review from book review challenger Cindy Harrison. Her website is http://cynthiaharrison.com/
Cindy chose to review “The Black Hours” by Alison Williams.
Here is her review.
Although the chilling historical novel The Black Hours by Alison Williams is fiction, it is written with such detailed realism that readers will feel they are in the village of Coggeshall where the story is set. In this bucolic and tranquil place, Alice Pendle and her grandmother are midwives and herbalists with a deep affinity for helping those in need. When they come under the jealous eye of a competing midwife, Annie Everard, this woman spreads rumors about the Pendles, hoping to blacken their name and steal their business. In this, she more than succeeds.
Matthew Hopkins is an historic figure who here is known as the Witchfinder. When he comes to Coggeshall searching for witches, Annie is more than willing to point the finger at the Pendle family. With excruciating detail, Williams describes the horrors that were the witch hunts of old. Midwives were often blamed when a mother or child died, and herbalists were celebrated when they brought the ill back to health. As we now know, these early keepers of medicinal knowledge did not have the power or the wish to kill, only to heal. This is especially true of the Pendles.
Superstitions of the times swept the lands and the horrifying portrayal of the torture and degradation suffered by Alice Pendle and her grandmother as they is put through the dishonest and shameful rigors of Hopkins’ Witchfinder ways is not easy reading. Williams is a skilled storyteller, but make no mistake, this tale is a dark one from a black chapter in human history. Williams does not shy away from the details that make it so, and for that she deserves highest praise.
There are also moments of light, but to tell these would be to spoil the story for readers. Suffice to say, there is evil afoot in Coggeshall, and the good news is it does not entirely prevail. Williams is a writer of power and strength and deserves a wide audience for her compelling work. – Cynthia Harrison