The Widdershins Trilogy: Widdershins, Sunwise & Solstice. Three historical novels inspired by three 17th century witch trials in the north east of England.

Seventeenth-century England. A world of witches, witchfinders and witch hunts.

The Widdershins Trilogy is a series of historical fiction about real witch trials in the north east of England.

Together, WiddershinsSunwise and Solstice tell the stories of three women accused of witchcraft: Annie Chandler, Jane Driver and Rose Verger. A grandmother. A mother. A daughter.

All three books are historical novels about witches, witchfinders and witch trials, including those held at Newcastle in 1650. There, thirty people were tried, twenty-seven were found guilty of witchcraft and sixteen were executed.


Widdershins (Book 1)

‘Did all women have something of the witch about them?’

Widdershins is inspired by the Newcastle witch trials where sixteen people were hanged. Despite being one of the the largest mass executions of witches on a single day in England, these trials are not widely known about.

In August 1650, fifteen 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.”

Sunwise (Book 2)

‘There is a madness come upon England of late.’

Following the Newcastle witch trials, where sixteen people were hanged for witchcraft, Sunwise continues the story of women’s struggle for survival in a hostile and superstitious world. Spurred on by the successful execution of sixteen proven witches, the witchfinder travels to Berwick, where he continues his quest to rid the world of evil. But will he hoodwink the Berwick authorities as easily as those in Newcastle?

Inspired by real events, Sunwise is the sequel to Helen Steadman’s best-selling historical novel, WiddershinsSunwise begins just after the Newcastle witch trials as Jane Chandler’s lover, Tom Verger, returns from the navy to find her unhappily married to his betrayer.

Jane is caught in an impossible situation. Still reeling from the loss of her mother at the hands of the witchfinder, Jane has no choice but to continue her dangerous work as a healer while keeping her young daughter safe.

But, as Tom seeks a way for him and Jane to be together, the Scottish witchfinder is still at large. Filled with vengeance, John Sharpe will stop at nothing in his sworn mission to free the world from the scourge of witchcraft.


The Historical Novel Society said of Sunwise

“The novel is rich in fascinating details: Jane’s remedies and the village customs, partly Christian, partly pagan. Ancient names for plants and festivities, both seasonal and Christian, add colour to the narrative. Jane’s story is based on true events, and Jane represents the many women whose healing gifts made them victims of superstition and violence.”

Solstice (Book 3)

Solstice book cover shows Rose Driver and Tom Verger in green silhouettes on a midnight blue backdrop. Rose is holding a shepherd's crook and they are surrounded by rose vines.

England, 1673. Still a world of witches, witchfinders and witch trials?

Rose Driver’s mother, brother and grandmother were all put to death by the fanatical witchfinder, John Sharpe.

Almost quarter of a century after the Newcastle witch trials, Sharpe is no longer a threat and Rose should be safe in her quiet village. But is history about to repeat itself?

Find out in Solstice, the third of three historical novels about real witch trials.

When a new vicar arrives to take over the parish of Mutton Clog, the village finds itself in the grip of Puritan fever, and suspicious eyes are turned on Rose. But this time, the witch hunter is not a man…

Inspired by the curious Riding Mill witch trials of 1673 where a young girl accused thirteen local men and women of witchcraft.

If you like historical novels about real witches, witchfinders and witch trials, you’ll love Solstice, the third book in The Widdershins Trilogy. Recommended for fans of The FamiliarsTidelands and The Witch of Tin Mountain.

Solstice will be published on 19 September 2023.


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