The Witching Tide
by Margaret Meyer
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Pub Date 05 Sep 2023 | Archive Date 05 Sep 2023
For readers of Margaret Atwood and Hilary Mantel, an immersive literary debut inspired by historical events—a deadly witch hunt in 17th-century England—that claimed many innocent lives.
East Anglia, 1645. Martha Hallybread, a midwife, healer, and servant, has lived peacefully for more than four decades in her beloved seaside village of Cleftwater. Having lost her voice as a child, Martha has not spoken a word in years.
One autumn morning, a sinister newcomer appears in town. The witchfinder, Silas Makepeace, has been blazing a trail of destruction along the coast, and now has Cleftwater in his sights. His arrival strikes fear into the heart of the community. Within a day, local women are being captured and detained, and Martha finds herself a silent witness to the hunt.
Powerless to protest, Martha is enlisted to search the accused women for “devil’s marks.” She is caught between suspicion and betrayal; between shielding herself or condemning the women of the village. In desperation, she revives a wax witching doll that belonged to her mother, in the hope that it will bring protection. But the doll’s true powers are unknowable, Martha harbors a terrible secret, and the gallows are looming…
Set over the course of just a few weeks that will forever change history, The Witching Tide delivers powerful and psychologically astute insights about the exigencies of friendship and the nature of loyalty, and heralds the arrival of a striking new voice in fiction.
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 96 members
The Witching Tide by Margaret Meyer is a historical fiction book set in the 1600s in a fictitious town on the coast of England near the water. It is about women who were killed for being able to out-think men, who were stronger and more able to achieve. It was an age when men were afraid and caused entire villages to become stifled with panic, and unable to stop the "tide" of searching out those who were considered "dangerous" to others. The thinking was to stop the "tide" of witches before they were able to teach others their tricks and spells. In that way, there were also women who were afraid of other women.
Meyer also creates a male character who is accused of witchcraft because he supported women. I am sure there is historical support for that, the book seems very well-researched from the facts that I know, so I assume it happened at times although rare.
Martha is a midwife and is also skilled in all types of healing. She is unable to talk so she uses signals and gestures to make herself understood. She finds herself in the middle of the search of her town for witches. Things unfold in expected and unexpected ways.
The book is un-put-downable, and a fresh telling of an old story that bears repeating. If this is a debut novel by Margaret Meyer, I will be keeping my eyes open for more,
The Witching Tide by Margaret Meyer is an excellent historical fiction that takes a look into a witch hunt during 17th century England.
I have always been fascinated by the culture, superstitions, religious associations, and societal attitudes concerning “witches” and sadly their persecutions and endings. Looking back at the storms, one can see it all coming to the surface from a multitude of avenues, and this complex web is spun…leaving us with this end result. This example is of no exception.
It was fascinating to go back to East Anglia during the 1600s when under the rule of James I of England/IV of Scotland, a lot of investigations, fears, trials, punishments, deaths, and internal/external changes were taking place in England were reignited. Those fears continued with his successors for a time as well during this century, and the cultural implications that this creates is massive.
The author does a great job bringing this example to us in her novel.
Thank you NG and Scribner for this wonderful arc and in return I am submitting my unbiased and voluntary review and opinion.
I am posting this review to my GR, Bookbub, Amazon, Instagram, and B&N accounts upon publication on 9/5/23 per publisher request.
Thank you netgalley and the publisher for giving me an ARC copy of this book! I love all things witchy and this book was exactly what I needed in my life. I love historical fiction on the witch trials and witches and this book just fit everything I love in one. This is such a tragic story, but all historical witch stories are. I love the power of women shown in this book and the story. Margaret Meyer used amazing writing and details to really make you feel like you were from this time and in the book while reading.
The author's use of imagery is so powerful in this book. The story is well written and does an excellent job of capturing the time period. As I read this novel I felt sorry for all the women that were accused of witches and had to go through similar ordeals.
I think The Witching Tide would be a wonderful novel for any book club. I highly recommend it.