Author: Rosie Andrews
Published: Bloomsbury Publishing Plc and released on Audible in February 2022
Category: Literary Fiction, Historical, Mythology
Norfolk, 1643. With civil war tearing England apart, reluctant soldier Thomas Treadwater is summoned home by his sister, who accuses a new servant of improper conduct with their widowed father. By the time Thomas returns home, his father is insensible, felled by a stroke, and their new servant is in prison, facing charges of witchcraft. Thomas prides himself on being a rational, modern man, but as he unravels the mystery of what has happened, he uncovers not a tale of superstition but something dark and ancient, linked to a shipwreck years before.
Something has awoken, and now it will not rest.
The story begins in 1703 in North Norfolk as Thomas Treadwater hears the dreaded words ’She is awake’. And he remembers how it began all those years ago…
It was December 1643 and Thomas was recuperating after being injured during the English Civil War when he received a letter from his sister, Esther, begging him to return home as soon as he can.
I will not share the whole story now. It is long and will, I fear, seem unlikely to you, reading by daylight. But I write in the shadows, by candlelight, with my hands shaking — even now you will see the difficulty I have in forming these letters — because our home is under attack by a great and ungodly evil.
After a long and arduous journey Thomas arrived at the family farm to find a field full of dead sheep and a father who had suffered a stroke. Esther was distraught, blaming the new servant girl, Chrissa Moore of bewitching their father and causing the death of the animals. Chrissa had been taken, jailed and charged with witchcraft. Thomas is a rational man, believing in what he can see and touch and so found Esther’s claim that Chrissa was a witch unbelievable. Nevertheless he decided to investigate, never dreaming where it would lead, what he would uncover and the struggles he would face while his beliefs were tested to the limits.
I chose to listen to the book and Rupert Farley does an excellent job with the narration. It’s always clear which character is speaking and the accents and speech sound authentic for the period. It took a little while to settle into the story, parts seemed slightly too drawn out and I had no idea where the narrative was going, but before too long I was drawn in.
The characters are wonderfully crafted, including the supporting cast. Thomas and Esther are total opposites and it’s hard to know what to make of Chrissa, she doesn’t say much, even to defend herself. The prose is atmospheric, rich and darkly menacing, with vivid historical details which capture the time and place. There are many twists which sometimes feel a bit random but I love the mythology, the supernatural and gothic feel to the story. An impressively sinister debut.