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November 23, 2023

The Witching Tide by Margaret Meyer ~ a Review

by MK French

In 1645 East Anglia, mute Martha Hallybread is a midwife and healer. The witchfinder Silas Makepeace has come to Cleftwater in his determination to find witches and scour them from the earth. Almost immediately, local women are jailed. It's close to home and Martha is tapped to search for “devil’s marks” in the hopes of freeing the cook in the house she serves. But there are those who would accuse her as well. She revived a wax witching doll that belonged to her mother, in the hope that it will bring protection. But the doll’s power is impossible to predict or direct.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

book cover of historical fiction novel The Witching Tide by Margaret Meyer
September 2023; Scribner; 978-1668011362
audio, ebook, print (336 pages); historical fiction

From the start, Martha has her way of communicating via sign language with those she'd known for years. While she had been a midwife and healer for about half of the village, the men and women are quick to turn on each other as soon as the witchfinder arrives. People who have known each other for years now speak about rumors and slights that they had harbored for years. The sick, old, and poor have no one to speak up for them, and Martha fears speaking up for them as well when her own mother had items known for witchcraft before her death. Martha is caught between the truth and survival in a town only too willing to see all the accused women hang after being tortured for a confession.

Based on the witch trials that swept East Anglia in the period, we see how quickly the hysteria builds and magnifies. It's horrifying, even without Martha's belief that the wax poppet has the power to witch others. People who once loved each other and worked together for the good of the village turn on each other to look pious and holy or to earn money. There's nothing Martha can do to change the mind of the witchfinder, and the speed at which the men turn on her is astounding. This was the reality for so many men and women in that time period, and we get a look into what it was like for ordinary people. Even after the hysteria ebbs, it isn't necessarily safe. The same simmering anger remains, and the village is changed from what it was. Still, there's hope for the future in the novel, with growth beginning again. We know people survived the witch trials, and that they eventually stopped. But it's only too easy for something similar to happen again.

Buy The Witching Tide at Amazon

Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and a golden retriever. 

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