I listen to a lot of audiobooks, but it’s been awhile since one left me thinking about it long after the last word was spoken. This was one such book.

About the Book

England, 1673. Still a world of witches, witch trials and witchfinders.

When a new vicar arrives to take over the parish of Mutton Clog, the village finds itself in the grip of puritan fever, and suspicious eyes are turned on Rose Driver.

Rose’s mother, brother and grandmother were all put to death by the fanatical witchfinder, John Sharpe.

Almost quarter of a century after the Newcastle witch trials, Sharpe is no longer a threat. Rose should be safe in her quiet village, but is history about to repeat itself?

Find out in Solstice, the powerful conclusion to The Widdershins Trilogy, which tells the story of one woman’s struggle for survival in a hostile and superstitious world.

The Widdershins Trilogy was inspired by the little-known Newcastle witch trials, where fifteen women and one man were hanged for witchcraft on a single day in August 1650.

My Thoughts

This book gripped me in a very visceral and real way. In the beginning, maybe because I was listening instead of looking at pages, I was a little confused – thinking the two girls were the same. But I quickly figured out they were not. My thoughts quickly turned to wondering how they were connected – why we were hearing about both of them. Find out the answer was so much more terrible and thrilling than I could imagine.

I assume most Americans read about the Salem Witch Trials in “The Crucible” by Arthur Miller, and that might be the extent of most of our knowledge. I don’t know what other countries learn about that period of history, but honestly I didn’t know until pretty recently that the UK also had witch trials. A bit silly of me really, considering that whole group came from England. But, what can I say? Sometimes we learn things as a kid and don’t really think about them.

Experiencing this alongside Rose and Patience, who were both victims of the patriarchial society that allowed women to be tried as witches and killed with very little evidence. In fact many were trying to help people, like Rose’s mother and grandmother who were midwives in the community. I really liked Rose, and Patience was hard to like from the beginning. But it is actually easy to see that she was in fact a victim of her time as well, just in a very different way.

The book dealt with very serious topics and was heartwrenching and difficult to hear at times, but I absolutely could not stop listening. I happened to need to drive quite a bit and was pleased becuase I was able to listen to this in one day, which is rare.

I hadn’t listened to or read the first two books in the series. I always hate that, but for once, this book really was able to stand on it’s own. They serve almost as prequels to this one being much in the past. But they are very connected, setting up many events that lead to those of this book.

The performance of the book definitely added to the experience. I’m positive the story stands on it’s own, but the reading by the voice actor definitely brought a breadth to it that I am glad to have experienced. I am so grateful to the author, the narrator, and Love Books Tour for including me on this tour. I will definitely be going back to listen to the previous books, and forward to listen to future books.

Who’s It For?

If you like engaging, mystical historical fiction that explores the complicated intersection of religion, women’s rights, humanity, family, love, loyalty, and more, this book is for you. But it features many disturbing scenes, so please check the content warnings.

Content Warnings: Infertility, Abortion, Miscarriage, Parental/Guardian Death, Spousal Death, Torture, Assault, Religious Ideation, Religious Torture, Strong Imagery, Strong Language, Adult Situations, Animal Death, Graphic Acts of Animal Husbandry

About the Author

Helen is particularly interested in revealing hidden histories and she is a thorough researcher who goes to great lengths in pursuit of historical accuracy. To get under the skin of the cunning women in The Widdershins Trilogy, Helen trained in herbalism and learned how to identify, grow and harvest plants and then made herbal medicines from bark, seeds, flowers and berries.

The Running Wolf is the story of a group of master swordmakers who left Solingen, Germany and moved to Shotley Bridge, England in 1687. As well as carrying out in-depth archive research and visiting forges in Solingen to bring her story to life, Helen also undertook blacksmith training, which culminated in making her own sword.

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