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| Double Review Feature

Widdershins & Sunwise by Helen Steadman

Published : April 2022

Publisher : BellJar Books

Format : Kindle, Audio, Hardback, Paperback

Genre : Historical Fiction

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* All words highlighted in Grey are affiliate links to either purchase from a range of sellers or links to the authors sites. Where ever possible I will try and provide different versions of the book on all purchase sites.

Synopsis - Widdershins

Did all women have something of the witch about them?

England, 1649. A sadistic witch hunter. An apprentice healer accused of witchcraft. Can she escape the hangmanโ€™s noose?

When Johnโ€™s parents die at the hands of a witch, he faces a choice: an easy life with a woman who serves Satan, or a hard life with a preacher who serves God. The cursed orphan chooses the church. Raised on raging sermons, he discovers his true purpose: to become a witchfinder and save virtuous souls from the jaws of hell.

In a town mesmerized by superstition and fear, two destinies collide. As John rounds up the local witches, Jane gets more than she bargained for when bartering with the apothecary. Instead of trading herbal remedies, she finds herself on trial for consorting with the devil. Can she prove her innocence, or will she be condemned to death?

Synopsis - Sunwise

A madness has come upon England of late.

Filled with vengeance, John will stop at nothing in his sworn mission to free the world from the scourge of witchcraft. When his quest to vanquish evil is thwarted by Jane, he decrees that she must die.

After defeating the witchfinder, Jane must continue her dangerous healing work. Alone in a hostile and superstitious village, she struggles to keep her little girl alive.

Determined to keep his vow, the witchfinder must put mother and daughter to death. When John brings the witch hunt to Janeโ€™s home, can she save herself and her child from certain slaughter?

My Review

- If I can recommend any books for you to read this bewitching season it would most definitely be this fantastic series by @helensteadmanauthor โœจ

Widdershins and Sunwise tell the story of Jane and John. Jane is a young midwife ( cunning woman ) in training and John is an orphaned boy raised by a cunning woman and brought up by his strictly religious uncle.

Jane and her mother pick herbs, berries and other things to make pastes and tinctureโ€™s for the local town folk. It is Janeโ€™s mother amongst others who the town turn to when they need help, especially when a woman is in labour. But the men around them always accuse them of witchcraft when ever anything doesnโ€™t go there way.

Every alternative chapter is from Jane or Johns narrative. I loved this as it really allowed a picture to be built up and fully immersed myself within their very different lives. He from Scotland, her from England. By the end of the first chapter my heart really felt for John and I was literally crying for the young boy and his poor dog.

Being surrounded by religion and crazy views regarding women, also the trauma of growing up believing that the midwife, (witch according to his aggressive father) killed his mother during his birth he feels he needs to rid the world of witches.

By this point Iโ€™m slowly disliking Johns character and his messed up views on women.

Jane on the other hand lives in bliss. Learning from her mother and betrothed to her childhood love Tom, until he is taken by the Navy and feared dead.

Life goes completely sideways for Jane, left pregnant and un wed she is forced to marry another for the sake of her child.

When Jane and her mother travel to Newcastle to visit the apothecary to sell their medicines they are taken by John, now an avid witch finder and put to trial. . . .

I loved everything about these books. They were extremely atmospheric and seamlessly continued on with Janes heartbroken love and Johns demented cleansing of the world of witches that I was unable to put them down.

The very real Horror that these poor women were believed to be witches and were put through awful ordeals to prove they wasn't a witch was just heartbreaking and emotional to read. For helping a woman give birth and by trying to save both lives they were seen as using witch craft. They were considered to have to appreciate pain and that the pain of childbirth was a punishment they should willingly accept from god for their sinful ways. It was hard to read but also fascinating that these men thought this way.

At one point a man is accused of using witch craft but then the local surgeon who also used the same practices as the women wasn't considered dangerous or a witch, it was very double standards.

The apprehension that slowly builds as you know these two characters that live miles apart and have nothing to do with each other are being slowly drawn together is harrowing and you are waiting for the moment when John finally hunts down Jane again to get his revenge for escaping his decided fate the first time round. Whilst at the same time your heart longs for Tom and Jane to somehow find a way out of the trickery of her confinement and back together where they belong.

I could not get enough of both of these books and they was made more special by the fact that these poor women in theses dark centuries actually had to endure this suspicion and daily dread from the hands of misguided, ignorant and tortured men.

Thank you so much @belljarbooks and @randomthingstours for this blogspot and amazing reads โœจ




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I hope you enjoyed reading my thoughts on this review, if you have read this book why not drop me a line telling me your thoughts?


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