Available: 1 July 2017
‘Helen Steadman is as much a witch in her spellbinding ability to enthral the reader as any of those in the story… a cracking plot, historical accuracy… the beauty and rawness of the language… a vivid and dynamic story that transported me back in time… a totally absorbing and disturbing read…’ (Linda’s Book Bag)
‘Never before have I read such a heart-breaking and equally fascinating novel… Remarkable writing, crisp and raw to the point of cutting me as I read… those herbs, potions, and lessons of natural remedies take you back to a time when women were vilified and condemned for being women… the story of the witch hunts will haunt me for some time to come…’ (The Booktrail)
‘As heart-breaking as it was suspenseful… unexpected… a book I’d really recommend. The story will slowly but surely pull you in and not let go until you read the last page’ (Bookfever)
‘…The narrative is superbly controlled by a very talented writer, a definite weaver of tales who has brought to perfect life the inner workings of a disturbed mind… Based on the true events of the 1650 Newcastle Witch Trials where sixteen petrified souls were taken to a needless death, the author has brought to life a chilling story of persecution, superstitious mania and terrifying ineptitude.’ (Jaffa Reads Too)
‘A subject ripe for fiction, and Helen Steadman has delivered a truly compelling and thrilling tale… The book is a treasure trove of the cunning woman’s knowledge of herbs and healing, birth and death… This is essential reading for anyone with an interest in history particularly the history of the North East of England, the history of medicine, women’s history and witchcraft in general… If you are a fan of Beth Underdown’s The Witch Finder’s Sister then you need to read this book. I would also recommend it to fans of Karen Maitland, Diana Gabaldon, Nicola Cornick and Hannah Kent.’ (Lisa Reads Books)
‘A wonderful scary, very atmospheric, and emotional book which serves as a lesson to all women of today not to be too complacent and trusting and a reminder that some men are just pure evil through and through.’ (Beady Jan’s Books)
‘There are some twists and surprises in store, but the thing that most captures the attention, is the immense attention to detail. Often the mark of the finer historical novels, Widdershins holds within its pages an immaculate grasp on the history of the 17th century witch trials, as well as day to day life in North-East England at that time.’ (The Cosy Reader)
‘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)
‘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.