Friday, August 13, 2010

Friday Freebie: Mary Sharratt's "Daughters of the Witching Hill"

Congratulations to Jon Horton who won last week's Friday Freebie!  Jon will soon be enjoying John McPhee's Silk Parachute.

This week's giveaway is a new hardback copy of Mary Sharratt's Daughters of the Witching Hill, a novel based on a real-life witch hunt in Jacobean England.  Publishers Weekly gave the book a starred review, calling it "a gorgeously imagined novel."  At her website, Sharratt talks about the origins of the novel:
In 1612, in one of the most meticulously documented trials in English history, seven women and two men from Pendle Forest were hanged as witches, condemned on “evidence” provided by a nine-year-old girl and her brother, who appeared to suffer from learning difficulties.  The trial itself might never have happened had it not been for King James I’s obsession with the occult.  His book Daemonologie—required reading for local magistrates—warned of a vast conspiracy of satanic witches threatening to undermine the nation.
I haven't had the chance to read Daughters of the Witching Hill, but I thoroughly enjoyed Sharratt's other novels, The Vanishing Point and The Real Minerva.  In an earlier review, I said of The Real Minerva:
Sharratt sets several subplots in motion, then wisely steps back and lets them play out with a minimum of authorial intrusion. This is the kind of writing which engages the reader without word gymnastics, verbal fireworks or symphonic sentences. We have plot, we have characters and both work in harmony to drive the reader forward.

If you want free gymnastics, fireworks and symphonies courtesy of Mary Sharratt, all you have to do is answer this question:

What more familiar nickname does Bess Southerns, the central character in Daughters of the Witching Hill, go by?

Email your answer (which can be easily found on Sharratt's website) to

One entry per person, please. In order to give everyone a fair shake in the contest, please e-mail the answer, rather than posting it in the comments section. The contest closes at midnight on Aug. 19, at which time I will place all the correct respondents in a hat and draw the winning name. I'll announce the winner on Aug. 20.

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