Cunning Women is an historical story set in Lancashire, England during 1620. The story revolves around a family known for their witchcraft; they live outside the main village in a house left abandoned after the plague. Some of the villagers go to them for medicinal help, but mostly they are feared and few will openly help by giving food or offering work.
Daniel is the son of a farmer, a gentle soul who befriends Sarah, the teenage daughter of the aforementioned family. However, when a new magistrate moves to the area, the man’s determination to purge the village of Papists and witchcraft can only mean trouble for Sarah and her family.
I liked the premise of this story, but I found it rather slow and predictable after the opening chapters, which was a shame. It was still a solid story, it just didn’t draw me in as much as I had hoped.
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Spring of 1620 in a Lancashire fishing community and the memory of the slaughter at Pendle is tight around the neck of Sarah Haworth. A birthmark reveals that Sarah, like her mother, is a witch. Torn between yearning for an ordinary life and desire to discover what dark power she might possess, Sarah’s one hope is that her young sister Annie will be spared this fate.
The Haworth family eke out a meagre existence in the old plague village adjoining a God-fearing community presided over by a seedy magistrate. A society built upon looking the other way, the villagers’ godliness is merely a veneer. But the Haworth women, with their salves and poultices, are judged the real threat to morality.
When Sarah meets lonely farmer’s son Daniel, she begins to dream of a better future. Daniel is in thrall to the wild girl with storms in her eyes, but their bond is tested when a zealous new magistrate vows to root out sins and sinners. In a frenzy of fear and fury, the community begins to turn on one another, and it’s not long before they direct their gaze towards the old plague village … and does Daniel trust that the power Sarah wields over him is truly love, or could it be mere sorcery?
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