‘Did all women have something of the witch about them?’
Jane Chandler is an apprentice healer. From childhood, she and her mother have used herbs to cure the sick. But Jane will soon learn that her sheltered life in a small village is not safe from the troubles of the wider world.
From his father’s beatings to his uncle’s raging sermons, John Sharpe is beset by bad fortune. Fighting through personal tragedy, he finds his purpose: to become a witch-finder and save innocents from the scourge of witchcraft.
Inspired by true events, Widdershins tells the story of the women who were persecuted and the men who condemned them.
‘Widdershins is a dark and wonderful novel, rich in historical details, herbal lore, traditions and superstitions. Steadman’s clear-eyed storytelling and colourful period voice give life to a vibrant cast of characters drawn against the backdrop of tragic historical events. A compelling and memorable tale!’ (Louisa Morgan, author of A Secret History of Witches)
‘Her writing reminds me of Hannah Kent’s bestselling novel, Burial Rites, which follows the final days of a young woman accused of murder in Iceland in 1829. Helen’s writing has a similar persuasive and empathetic force, weaving together historical fact with modern concerns about the treatment of women.’ (Helen Marshall, Award winning author)
‘Widdershins gives a compelling and nuanced account of the clash of cultures that claimed so many lives. Steadman’s carefully interwoven narrative conjures a world of herbal lore, folk practice and belief and convincingly portrays the psychological and ideological forces that form a perpetrator, and the social structures that sustain him.’ (Helen Lynch, author of The Elephant and the Polish Question)
‘Infused as it is with aromas of rosemary, fennel and lavender, even the healers’ herbs do not mask the reek of the injustice that sits at the heart of Widdershins. Powerful and shocking.’ (Wyl Menmuir, author of The Many (longlisted for The Man Booker Prize 2016))
‘A compelling tale of two young people whose destinies are intertwined, a witch-hunter and a witch. But is she really a witch? This meticulously researched account of a bigoted man’s inhumanity to women in the 17th century will make the modern reader grateful to have been born in an enlightened age.’ (Mari Griffith, author of The Witch of Eye)