England, 1649. A sadistic witch hunter. 
An innocent healer accused of witchcraft.
Can she escape the hangman’s noose?

John is cursed by the scourge of witchcraft. When his parents die at the hands of an old crone, the orphan faces a choice. A hard life with a preacher who serves God. Or an easy life with a woman who serves Satan. He chooses God. Raised on raging sermons, the valiant boy finds his true purpose: to hunt witches and save innocent souls from the jaws of hell. 

When Jane barters herbal remedies with the apothecary, the unsuspecting girl gets more than she bargained for. Accused of witchcraft, she finds herself condemned to death. 

In a town gripped by superstition and fear, two destinies collide. When the vengeful witchfinder rounds up the local cunning women, Jane is his final victim. On trial for her life, can the healer prove her innocence and escape the hangman’s noose?

If you like historical novels based on real witch trials, you’ll love Helen Steadman's Widdershins and its sequel, Sunwise

Recommended for fans of The Familiars, Tidelands and The Witchfinder's Sister.

If you'd like a signed copy of Widdershins for less than you'd pay for an unsigned book at Amazon, please click on the button below. This will take you to Forum Books, an excellent independent bookshop that provides store pick-up or online delivery.



Historical Novel Society

Inspired by the Newcastle witch trials of 1650, this is the parallel story of two people on a collision course towards disaster. One is Scottish witch-finder, John Sharpe. The other is English Jane Chandler, healer and midwife. We follow their lives from youth to maturity, in John’s case from birth, when he was ironically ‘saved’ from certain death by a midwife who he later is certain is a witch. Brought up first by a cruel father and then a bigoted priest, it is inevitable that he learns the witch-finder craft, which is nothing more than misogynistic trickery.

This was a difficult novel to read at times because of its cruelty, but compelling none the less. Impeccably written, full of herbal lore and the clash of ignorance and prejudice against common sense, as well as the abounding beauty of nature, it made for a great read. There are plenty of books, both fact and fiction, available about the witch-trial era, but not only did I not know about such trials in Newcastle, I have not read a novel that so painstakingly and vividly evokes both the fear and joy of living at that time. I have one criticism. I like uplifting endings, but here I felt it too much a case of deus ex machina. That aside, I thoroughly recommend Widdershins and look forward to reading more by Helen Steadman.

Sally Zigmond