Mist Over Pendle by Robert Neill
The Lancashire Witch trials of 1612 were the basis for this story. We have a young puritan girl, Margery, sent to her cousin Roger Nowell because her family doesn’t know what to do with her (she is distinctly un-puritan) and nobody can provide her with a dowry to marry her off. Roger’s way of life is more to Margery’s taste and, freed of the restrictions her upbringing had imposed on her, we see her blossom into an intelligent young woman. She accompanies her cousin, a Justice of the Peace, on his investigations into increasingly frequent accusations of witchcraft, soon becoming an integral part of the inquiries, her actions leading to at least one incidence of romance and several incidences of execution.
✔ I loved the writing, you could tell at once that it wasn’t written in recent years, it was lighter and more tongue-in-cheek (in places) than novels written in recent decades.
✔ The descriptions were evocative of the time and place, I could feel the icy cold of the winter rains as they rode around the county and the warmth of a blazing fireplace afterwards. I could feel the threat emanating from the witches and feared for the young girls, Margery and Grace, in particular
✔ The dialogue could be very amusing, the characters of both Roger and Margery made me smile on more than one occasion
✔ The minor elements of romance (after all, she was there to find a dowry if not a husband) were handled delicately and left me smiling
✖ The only negative aspect I found was that it was getting a little bogged down in the beginning with the descriptions of the area. I found that a little tedious but it was obviously meant to set the scene and introduce the different locations in the story.
I really enjoyed this book, it put a smile on my face in some places, made me anxious in others and entertained me throughout, The focus is more on the investigation and Margery’s ‘coming of age’ than on the witchcraft side of it, so if that is what you are looking for then this probably isn’t the story for you. However, if you are interested in the psychological aspect on the populace in general, then you might find this interesting.