Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Review! The Black Hours by Alison Williams

1647 and England is in the grip of civil war. In the ensuing chaos, fear and suspicion are rife and anyone on the fringes of society can find themselves under suspicion. 

Matthew Hopkins, self -styled Witchfinder General, scours the countryside, seeking out those he believes to be in league with the Devil. In the small village of Coggeshall, 17–year-old Alice Pendle finds herself at the centre of gossip and speculation. Will she survive when the Witchfinder himself is summoned? 

A tale of persecution, superstition, hate and love, ‘The Black Hours’ mixes fact with fiction in a gripping fast-paced drama that follows the story of Alice as she is thrown into a world of fear and confusion, and of Matthew, a man driven by his beliefs to commit dreadful acts in the name of religion.

Title: The Black Hours

Author: Alison Williams

Genre: Dark Historical Fiction

Publication Date: October 24, 2013

The Black Hours is an authentic historical fiction tale based on Matthew Hopkins, the self-proclaimed Witchfinder General, who sent hundreds of innocent women to their deaths based on false accusations of witchcraft.

I found this tale to be so heartbreaking, it was difficult to pick it up at times. However, Alison Williams certainly did her research and wrote a fantastic tale.

Alice Pendle and her grandmother use herbs and ointments to heal fellow villagers, and the villagers were content to use their concoctions until it benefited them to do otherwise. Oh, how quickly the villagers turn against young Alice. What I found interesting was the unique storytelling not only from Alice Pendle’s perspective, but from Matthew Hopkins’ as well. Though I felt dirty after getting a sneak peek into his inner thoughts. As the victim of abuse himself, he became a fanatic who convinces himself that he’s doing the right thing.

In direct contrast to Hopkins is Constable Hargreaves, who is very admirable in his attempts to shield Alice from the rumors and escalating village confrontations, yet is unable to intervene to save her.

As a first historical novel, Alison Williams’s The Black Hours is a stunning tale of the ordinary people whose lives were affected by the beliefs of those who had power over them.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Alison Williams has been writing ever since she can remember – scribbling down and (badly) illustrating stories in exercise books whenever she wasn’t actually reading (which was most of the time when she was awake). After getting married and having two children, Alison worked in education until deciding to bite the bullet and do what she had always wanted to do which is to write full-time – it only took her until her forties! Alison now works as a freelance writer with articles published on line and in magazines. From 2011-2012 she studied for a Masters in Creative Writing with the University of Glasgow. As part of her studies, Alison wrote her first novel ‘The Black Hours’ – available now.

Alison is fascinated by history – but not so much the kings and queens, the emperors, the military heroes or the great leaders. More the ordinary people whose lives were touched by the decisions, the beliefs and the whims of those who had power over them and who now fill our history books. It is their stories that she wants to tell.

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