Widdershins: audio book based on the 1650 Newcastle witch trials

The Widdershins audiobook is now on sale. If you’d like to get a free audiobook just follow the links below, depending on where you are. If you’re not in the UK, US, France or Germany, just click on the US link and it should take you to the most appropriate site for your location. This should open a page where you can click the orange box to take out a free 30 day trial with Audible. (If you don’t want to pay for Audible, please remember to cancel your trial before the 30 day trial ends – either way, you get to keep your free audio book of Widdershins.) If you’re not sure you want to commit to this audiobook, you can listen to a sample first.

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Widdershins audio book published on 25 June 2021

The audio version of Widdershins is narrated by Christine Mackie (famous for her roles in Downton Abbey, Coronation Street, Wire in the Blood, Clocking Off, Casualty, The Grand, Fat Friends, Holby City, Doctors, Peak Practice, Heartbeat, French and Saunders and the list goes on…) Here she is in the studio, being herself and being Daphne Bryant in Downton Abbey. Christine has done an absolutely fabulous job of the narration – her voice really draws you in. Listen out for the Sunwise audio book later this year (Sunwise is the sequel to Widdershins).

Widdershins is inspired by the Newcastle witch trials, where 16 people were hanged. Despite being the largest mass execution of witches on a single day in England, these trials are not widely known about. In August 1650, 15 women and one man were hanged as witches after a Scottish witchfinder found them guilty of consorting with the devil. This notorious man was hired by the Puritan authorities in response to a petition from the Newcastle townsfolk who wanted to be rid of their witches. 

Widdershins is told through the eyes of Jane Chandler, a young woman accused of witchcraft, and John Sharpe, the witchfinder who condemns her to death. Jane Chandler is an apprentice healer. From childhood, she and her mother have used herbs to cure the sick. But Jane soon learns that her sheltered life in a small village is not safe from the troubles of the wider world. From his father’s beatings to his uncle’s raging sermons, John Sharpe is beset by bad fortune. Fighting through personal tragedy, he finds his purpose: to become a witchfinder and save innocents from the scourge of witchcraft. 

The Historical Novel Society said of Widdershins: “Impeccably written, full of herbal lore and the clash of ignorance and prejudice against common sense, as well as the abounding beauty of nature, it made for a great read. There are plenty of books, both fact and fiction, available about the witch-trial era, but not only did I not know about such trials in Newcastle, I have not read a novel that so painstakingly and vividly evokes both the fear and joy of living at that time.”

Recommended for anyone who has enjoyed Stacey Halls’ The Familiars, Beth Underdown’s The Witchfinder’s Sister, AK Blakemore’s The Manningtree Witches, Elizabeth Lee’s Cunning Women, Louisa Morgan’s A Secret History of Witches, Jeanette Winterson’s The Daylight Gate, Madeline Miller’s Circe, Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, or Deborah Harkness’ A Discovery of Witches.

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