The Manningtree Witches | Granta

  • Published: 04/03/2021
  • ISBN: 9781783786435
  • Granta Books
  • 304 pages

The Manningtree Witches

A. K. Blakemore

WINNER OF THE DESMOND ELLIOTT PRIZE

Fear and destruction take root in a community of women when the Witchfinder General comes to town, in this dark and thrilling debut.

England, 1643. Parliament is battling the King; the war between the Roundheads and the Cavaliers rages. Puritanical fervour has gripped the nation, and the hot terror of damnation burns black in every shadow.

In Manningtree, depleted of men since the wars began, the women are left to their own devices. At the margins of this diminished community are those who are barely tolerated by the affluent villagers – the old, the poor, the unmarried, the sharp-tongued. Rebecca West, daughter of the formidable Beldam West, fatherless and husbandless, chafes against the drudgery of her days, livened only by her infatuation with the clerk John Edes. But then newcomer Matthew Hopkins takes over the Thorn Inn and begins to ask questions about the women of the margins. When a child falls ill with a fever and starts to rave about covens and pacts, the questions take on a bladed edge.

The Manningtree Witches plunges its readers into the fever and menace of the English witch trials, where suspicion, mistrust and betrayal ran amok as the power of men went unchecked and the integrity of women went undefended. It is a visceral, thrilling book that announces a bold new talent.

I loved this riveting, appalling, addictive debut. Blakemore captures the shame of poverty and social neglect unforgettably, and the alluring threat of women left alone together, in a novel which vividly immerses the reader in the world of those who history has tried to render mute

Megan Nolan

Glimmers with darkness and glints with fear... Vivid and original

Daily Mail

Not just the best debut novel I've read in years, it's the best historical novel I've read since Wolf Hall

Sandra Newman

The Author

A. K. Blakemore is the author of two full-length collections of poetry: Humbert Summer (Eyewear, 2015) and Fondue (Offord Road Books, 2018), which was awarded the 2019 Ledbury Forte Prize for Best Second Collection. She has also translated the work of Sichuanese poet Yu Yoyo (My Tenantless Body, Poetry Translation Centre, 2019). Her poetry and prose writing has been widely published and anthologised, appearing in the The London Review of Books, Poetry, Poetry Review and The White Review, among others.

More about the author →

A. K. Blakemore on Granta.com

Essays & Memoir | The Online Edition

Lice

A. K. Blakemore

‘I often had head lice as a child. Outbreaks circulated around my primary school on a seasonal basis.’

A new essay from the author of The Manningtree Witches.