The independent women of Scotland stand up to a witch hunt, male fury and the power of the Church in a battle for survival in this compelling historical novel based on true events in early eighteenth century Scotland.
1703: The wild east coast of Scotland.
Returning to her home town of Pittenweem, fishwife and widow Sorcha McIntyre knows she faces both censure and mistrust. After all, this is a country where myth and legend are woven into the fabric of the everyday, a time when those who defy custom like Sorcha has are called to account.
It is dangerous to be a clever woman who ‘doesn’t know her place’ in Pittenweem – a town rife with superstition. So, when a young local falls victim to witchcraft, the Reverend Cowper and the townsfolk know who to blame. What follows for Sorcha and her friends is a terrifying battle, not only for their souls, but for their lives, as they are pitted against the villagers’ fear, a malevolent man and the might of the church.
Based on the shocking true story of the witch hunt of Pittenweem, this multi-layered novel is a beautifully written historical tale of the strength of women united against a common foe.
I need to fess up at this point: I’m a witch hunt geek. I have a serious collection of books on witch hunts and witch trials and have visited numerous sites around the world where these events took place, from obscure Austrian forests to Salem in the USA. While I love a historical set during these times, it also needs to be extremely well written to pass muster with me. I can say that The Darkest Shore not only makes the cut, but is one of the best I’ve read in this genre.
Karen Brooks is the author of 13 books. She’s also an academic, a social commentator and columnist, and it shows in this book. The Darkest Shore is meticulously researched, taking a real historical event, and her academic experience and merging it with exceptional storytelling. The characters are complex and compelling, particularly the widow and fishwife Sorcha. It really is a strong women’s story, with her leading the way. The themes around women’s friendship are absorbing and as relevant today as back then.
This is a powerful novel, at times brutal, but always enthralling. At the back of the book is a list of characters which I referred to often at the start, but very little as the book progressed and these characters became familiar to me. There is also a fascinating glossary which I spent quite a lot of time absorbed in, enjoying the words I’d never heard before. I love dwamish, which means dreamy. And clecking, otherwise known as chatting or gossiping.
The Darkest Shore is a major achievement for Karen Brooks. I can’t wait to see what she writes next. Completely bewitching!
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