I loved this book. My dissertation at university was on the subject of witchcraft in Elizabethan England. This book is set during the reign of Charles I (so about 50 years after the era I studied).
This book has been well researched and the description of the process of locating witches was both accurate and horrific. Witches in England were not burned at the stake: this was the fate of witches in Europe.
My only complaint is the book is too short, I’d have loved it to be longer!
The book begins with the ducking of a suspected witch. This is where a person would be tied up and thrown in a pond. If they sank (and drowned) then they were innocent and if they floated then they was obviously guilty of witchcraft because water (which represented the water of baptism and the love of God) had rejected them due to their pact with the Devil. They would then be executed by hanging.
This event was overseen by 2 Inquisitors who went from town to town rooting out witchery and saving the community. Except they are not real witch hunters: they are actors.
One man knows their secret and threatens them with revealing their true identity if they do not help his scheme to ruin a woman who spurned his advances.
Elizabeth Fiennes has met the love of her life but on her wedding night her new husband is whisked away by the Inquisitors accused of witchcraft. Desperate, she turns to Sir Henry Cruttenden for help and he agrees in exchange for sexual favours.
I won’t spoil the ending but there is a brilliant twist in the book which made me shout out a triumphant ‘ha!’
Here is the official book blurb:
TO SNARE A WITCH by Jay Raven
No female dares spurn the lecherous advances of Sir Henry Cruttendon, 17th Century England’s most reviled nobleman. To do so risks a retribution that would terrify the Devil himself.
But Elizabeth Fiennes is no ordinary woman, blessed with stunning beauty, intelligence and guile. Coming from an influential family, she believes she is safe.
What she doesn’t understand is that the Earl is determined to satisfy his lust and plans to use the wave of witch trials, fear and superstition sweeping the countryside to force her into his clutches.
And as he springs his malicious trap it triggers a chain of unholy events plunging hunter and prey into a maelstrom of deceit, terror and depravity – leaving them both staring into the face of true evil…
Jay Raven is the author of Gothic chillers and historical horror reminding readers that the past is a dangerous place to venture, full of monsters and murderous men.
He blames his fascination with vampires, witches and werewolves on the Hammer Horror films he watched as a teenager, but living in a creepy old house on the edge of a 500-acre wood may have something to do with it.
*I received this book for the purpose of the book tour but all opinions are my own.