The Manningtree Witches by AK Blakemore is one of those rare historical fictions where you cannot spot the lines between fiction and fact.
It’s 1643, the English Civil War is raging and the puritans are in the ascendancy. Rebecca West hates the menial drudgery that fills her days and chasm that separates her from the comfortable middle classes of Manningtree. When Matthew Hopkins arrives in Manningtree things take a dark turn for the marginalised working class women of the village. This is a tale of alleged witchcraft, mass hysteria, lies and vengeance and Rebecca is at the centre of the madness that follows.
The Manningtree Witches weaves historical fact, Matthew Hopkins was the Witchfinder General who instigated the Essex witch trials of this time, Rebecca West is described in the records of the trials, with an imagined narrative of the period. It is a compelling read.