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Authors at Pendle Hill – a be-witching literary location

  • Submitted: 19th February 2019

There have been a few books out recently and others not so recently, that delve into  witchery tales. Stories which all sadly have their fictional threads based on very real locations and the harsh treatment of women.

These stories all capture the imagination as they are set in and around Pendle Hill and other places in the UK noted for so called Witch Trials. Times where women were suspected of witcraft for many weird and utterly unbelievable reasons. Women who tried to treat their family’s illnesses with herbs were thought to be witches. If a baby died in childbirth or not long after, the woman was suspected of having killed it. Villagers would suspect a child of acting off, accuse them of being a changeling and then the mother would be accused of worse.

A mythical and very dark gothic landscape for all kinds of strange goings on…And here are the books to explore it more…

The Familiars by Stacey Hall

1600s: In a time of suspicion and accusation, to be a woman is the greatest risk of all . . .“Neighbours denouncing neighbours—it was the most reliable trait of humanity, and was how the dungeon was filled in the first place. Rumour could spread faster than disease, and could be just as destructive.”


The Familiars, Stacey Hall

A Fever of the Blood by Oscar de Muriel

The theme is spooky and chilling  – witchcraft and sorcery plus supernatural shadows are handled with the deft of a master craftsman. Oscar explains the research he did in the back of the book and how his knowledge and interest in both UK and Mexican culture lent themselves well to this novel. But it’s the setting of the Pendle Witch Trials that spook most of all…

Fever of the Blood

Pendle Fire by Paul Southern

2000s: Whispers of witchcraft and child abuse go back to the Middle Ages. This one is darker than the others as it concerns cases of child abuse in the present day. But there are whispers of cold cases going back years earlier. And the setting? Where some of the worst trials against women were committed…

Pendle Fire

The Crafstman by Sharon Bolton

A gripping crime drama but with a past which bubbles in the cauldron of history throughout. As Sharon writes in her author note:

“On a spring day in 1612, a mill owner called Richard Baldwin, in the Pendle forest of Lancashire cased two local women off his land, calling them’ witches and whores’ threatening to ‘ burn the one and hang the other’ and, in doing, so, set in motion events that led to the imprisonment, trial and execution of nine women on the charge of murder by witchcraft: the infamous Pendle Witch Trials.”

The Craftsman

Dare you go and find out more?

Of the Pendle Trials of grit and gore…



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