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  • Location: Essex, Manningtree

The Witchfinder’s Sister

The Witchfinder’s Sister

Why a Booktrail?

1645: Story based on Matthew Hopkins, witchhunter in the 17th century.

  • ISBN: 978-0241978030
  • Genre: Fiction, Historical

What you need to know before your trail

When Alice Hopkins’ husband dies in a tragic accident, she has no choice but to return to the small Essex town of Manningtree, and reunite with her brother Matthew

Matthew had never liked his sisters husband and had been extremely critical of her marriage to someone from a lower social class. Now in a position of weakness as he sees it, Matthew plays on it to control his sister and even involve her in his important work. Unbeknownst to Alice, her brother is gathering women’s names in a book, women who he suspects, no accuses of being witches. He sets himself the task to weed out those women responsible and have them ‘dealt with’

It’s only when Alice is forced to join in with her brother’s wicked plan that she finally realises the extent of what he is doing and the  consequences for women, not to mention herself


Travel Guide

The street where Matthew Lived (c) Beth Underwood

The street where Matthew lived (c) Beth Underwood


Matthew Hopkins was a real life Witchhunter who ‘worked’ during the English Civil War. He claimed to hold the title of Witchfinder General, although this was never a authentic title.

He made it his mission to hunt out and find witches and kept a log of women who displayed ‘witch – like tendencies’  It’s thought he was responsible for the death of some 300 women in just under two years. Whatever the final figures, he goes down in history for being one of the most merciless of them all.

In the novel, his fictional sister Alice returns home after the loss of her husband and finds her brother much changed. Her once shy and reserved brother has decided that it’s his job, his purpose in life to hunt witches and many of them seem to be their friends and acquaintances

The pain and the dark confusion shroud her return to Manningtree and watches her brother pick out and hunt these women down. Their lives, their community picked apart  at the whim of one man and his cronies.

Shocking and terrifying – and based on true fact.

Streetview Maps

B) Manningtree Mistley Towers
D) Manningtree - Manningtree Parish Church

Booktrailer Review

Susan: @thebooktrailer

Gripping and authentic story of the most famous Witchfinder in England – An Essex man who took it upon himself to pick women out as being evil and cast them aside and had them killed. This really is the story of evil, of Essex in the 1600s and the furore of how rumours and evil can spread if ‘good men do nothing’. Frightening but utterly compelling

A difficult and quite upsetting topic when you realise how true this is. What I really liked about this was how authentic it read and how utterly compelling it was to get an insight into how one man and then several men decided that a woman must be a witch. The dynamic between men and women at that time, captured brilliantly between the relationship between Alice and Matthew was horrific – women were nothing more than there for the pleasure and cruelty of men it would seem and it’s scary to see how one man’s obsession can quickly spiral out of control and how there’s nothing anyone can do. Bearing in mind, you have to read this with the knowledge that this is the 1600s,  it makes you think how similar behaviour might also go unnoticed today.


The book grabbed me and really intrigued me from early on as through the eyes of someone ‘who was there’ – a fictional sister of a real life character, this was a very clever way to depict and evoke the horror of what went on then. It’s chock full of research and attitudes to women that are hard to grasp now, but the taunt and crisp writing draws you in like its own kind of spell and it never leaves you until the very last word.

Even then it lingers…..I’ve already made a wish for the author’s next book!


Booktrail Boarding Pass Information:  The Witchfinder’s Sister

Author/Guide Beth Underdown  Destination: Manningtree, Essex  Departure Time: 1645

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