Witch Hunt by Syd Moore

There was a moment when Witch Hunt very nearly got hidden in the freezer. It got to me more than I’d anticipated. But – I love ghost stories. I love witches. Do I love ghost stories about long-dead witches that give me the fears? Why yes, yes I do.
Proud Essex girl Sadie is a journalist who uncovers more than she bargained for when she starts researching the vile 17th century Witchfinder Matthew Hopkins. Sadie is determined to give a voice to his many victims, but disturbingly, it seems that something unearthly is trying to communicate with her. Can the past be haunting Sadie, or is it all in her head as she grieves for her mother? Whichever it is, the menace she feels is pretty bloomin’ scary and majorly creepy. I was actually freaked out at times as I got sucked into the story.
I loved how the presence Sadie feels changes; sometimes almost benign, other times deeply malevolent. She has vivid visceral hallucinations, which no amount of rationalising can explain. She is also haunted by her mother’s death, and carries around this huge ball of guilt. To her the scratching noises coming from the loft may well be rats, but they sound very much like her ‘conscience itching’. Real life is not being particularly kind to Sadie, but she does have a new book deal. I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed the portrayal of the publishing house’s corrupt media mogul with fingers in all of the pies. He seemed eerily familiar…
My absolute favourite thing about Witch Hunt is Sadie’s forthright opinions on what a scumbag Hopkins was. She tears the power-crazed sadist apart, exposing him for the monster he was. It feels so good to type that, letting any attempt at historian’s objectivity go! I abhor Hopkins and seeing him skewered made me so very happy. Even without the supernatural twist, I defy anyone to read about Hopkins’ exploits here without getting the shudders.
The story builds up to a huge clash of the real and supernatural forces Sadie is facing. I had an overwhelming sense of foreboding that she was making a terribly bad decision, but I did not see exactly how it was going to play out. I’d followed the clues as her life as she knew it unravelled; it was great to still get a surprise. I enjoyed the storytelling, the story, and I loved Sadie. I was hoping Witch Huntwould be my kind of book, and by heck, it was.
I was fortunate enough to receive a copy of the book from the publisher. Thank you to Avon and to the author.

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