Thursday, 22 March 2007


AUTHOR: J B Aspinall


DATE READ: December 2006

NOTES: Medieval tale of a witch terrorising an area of Yorkshire and the church’s battle against her. Written by Brother Edmund who is asked to record the story as a penance for his carnal thoughts. Language has an authentic feel and author seems true to the ethos of the time. Edmund believes in witchcraft and that his bad dreams mean that he has been invaded by demons at the behest of a witch. It was an interesting device to have a narrator who actually believed the church’s teaching of the times rather than have someone with a much more rational outlook. Very well written and quite a page turner. It is subtly satirical – the power of the witch is described in graphic detail and Edmund has no problem in believing what he is told. Some parts are truly shocking – especially the notion that the women who invade Edmund’s dreams must be bewitched and therefore should be put on trial and executed for witchcraft. Age old problem of blaming women for the effect they have on men! Although Edmund is not happy about this he makes no real attempt to prevent it happening – he is totally immersed in church propaganda and not intelligent enough to think more rationally.

The story tells of Sukie – a peasant girl of great spirit and little beauty – who is badly treated by her family and eventually arrested and imprisoned. While imprisoned she is continually abused and when she is eventually freed she becomes a virtual hermit in the hills, but makes a living by selling herbal potions. After two mysterious deaths of men (it is never made entirely clear that Sukie was to blame) she flees and is not heard of for many years. But it is only a matter of time before the church feels the need to be rid of her.


jbaspinall said...
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jbaspinall said...

Thanks, Wynne, for this intelligent review!