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The Witch Hunter's Tale: A Midwife Mystery (The Midwife's Tale) Paperback – December 15, 2015
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“Thomas's outstanding third mystery featuring midwife Bridget Hodgson offers a powerful portrayal of collective madness. . . . How [Bridget] handles tough moral choices helps make this entry the best to date.” ―Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Thomas's follow-up to The Harlot's Tale does not disappoint. With authentic historical details and fascinating characters, this book will draw readers deep into the elaborate world of 17th-century England, midwives, and witch hunts.” ―Library Journal (starred review)
“Besides making his heroine a plausible sleuth, Thomas conveys the challenges of midwifery without clumsy exposition.” ―Publishers Weekly (starred review) on The Harlot's Tale
“As pleasurable as his mystery is, the true thrill here is Thomas's lively portrait of 1644 York and his unique heroine.” ―Cleveland Plain Dealer on The Midwife's Tale
“A briskly plotted historical mystery starring a pair of brave, tenacious, intelligent women who take no prisoners and make no apologies.” ―Lyndsay Faye, author of Gods of Gotham
“Thomas is a historian by profession and it shows in the wealth of detail with which he recreates the city of York amid the turmoil of the English civil war.” ―Rhys Bowen, author of the bestselling Royal Spyness series
“A heart-stopping page-turner coupled with a gritty and realistic portrayal of two strong and contrasting woman characters vividly depicted against the backdrop of the besieged city of York.” ―Cora Harrison, author of I Was Jane Austen's Best Friend
“The gripping story, fascinating characters, and intriguing era make Thomas's debut mystery a reader's delight.” ―Priscilla Royal, author of The Killing Season
“Thomas's fiction debut is packed with fascinating information about a midwife's skills and life during the English civil war. The ingenious, fast-paced mystery is a bonus.” ―Kirkus Reviews on The Midwife's Tale
“Everything rings true in historian Thomas's superb first mystery. . . Authentic details of life in 17th-century York complement the whodunit's intelligently concealed clues.” ―Publishers Weekly (starred) on The Midwife's Tale
About the Author
SAM THOMAS teaches history at University School near Cleveland, Ohio. He has received research grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Neweberry Library, and the British Academy. He has published academic articles on topics ranging from early modern Britain to colonial Africa. Thomas lives in Shaker Heights, Ohio, with his wife and two children.
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Top Customer Reviews
Set in 17th century Puritan England, the Midwife Mystery series feature gentlewoman Lady Bridget Hodgson, who is a midwife and well known in the entire city of York Minster. Everyone respects her and she carries with her an air of authority and respect.
In this offering, everyone in the city is up in arms that witches may be afoot, and Lady Bridget's newphew, Joseph, is arresting women left and right. No one is safe, not even Lady Bridget herself or her deputy, Martha.
Then a murder of someone close to Lady Bridget happens and her world turns upside down. Everyone she loves seems to be in danger now. What move should Lady Bridget make next? If she's not careful, she herself will be named as witch.
Enter Rebecca Hooke, arch enemy of Lady Bridget, and who lives to take revenge on her. Rebecca Hooke's anger and vengenance know no bounds when it comes to Lady Bridget.
Things progressively grow from worse to worse until it seems that the only way out is to leave the city. But Lady Bridget can't do that because all she holds dear is in York.
Sam Thomas is an incredible writer. His attention to detail is beyond compare. His historical research is impeccable. I found myself many times going to the dictionary to look up the meaning of words used in the 17th century.
His writing, in the way I feel best to describe it, is clean, crisp and to the point. There are no wasted words here. Every word is important to the story and he writes in a fascinating manner, drawing the reader in to the tale immediately and not letting go until the last word is read. Something that I hated, by the way. I did not want it to end.
This is one book I could not put down. It was wonderful.
"The Witch Hunter's Tale" is the most intriguing mystery yet in Sam Thomas's Midwife Mystery Series [following "The Harlot's Tale" (The Harlot's Tale: A Midwife Mystery (The Midwife's Tale)) and the superb debut, "The Midwife's Tale" (The Midwife's Tale: A Mystery)]. A plague of evilness has invaded York. It is worse than anything viral. Once again, the powerful are preying on the weak. Fueled by gossip, bitterness and hatred, the witch hunt spreads like wildfire as it engulfs the entire city, threatening to kill dozens of innocent people, including children.
I found it very sad and disconcerting that the witch hunt in "The Witch Hunter's Tale" is based on actual events. It is utterly unbelievable that humans could be cruel enough to prey on the elderly, handicapped and the young. The novel emphasizes the harsh, filthy realities of prison life. Many prisoners died of disease while awaiting trial. Everyone who is accused of witchcraft is severely beaten until they confess they are a witch. Because they are often mentally ill, victims become delusional and often believe they must be witches.
Once again, as with the previous novels, the difficulties of childbearing are brought into play. From the births that Bridget assists, readers learn how easy and quickly a woman or baby can perish. Praise God for modern medicine; most of us wouldn't be alive if not for it. Speaking of God, Bridget still mourns the deaths of her two young children, Birdy and Michael; a part of her questions the existence of God. I see this questioning in many characters who have suffered tragedies. In the past, I have had my own doubts and fears; I think the most devout Christians sometimes experience them. I remind myself that this is a fallen world and it is only temporary.
Bridget must rely heavily on her faith in this novel because her entire family is in danger of death. Some are hauled away, accused of witchcraft, while others flee for their lives and go into hiding. Once again, Bridget must seek help from the wealthy Madame, Helen Wright, and her servant, Stephen Daniels. They become closer friends. For the first time, Bridget must also rely on the power of the written word as distributed in the form of booklets by Peter Newcome, who performs the dual role of merchant (chapman) and reporter.
Witches are on trial in "The Witch Hunter's Tale" but what is also on trial is moral absolutism. For example, according to the Bible, it is a sin to lie. However, if your lies will save a loved one from death, then it is not a sin to lie. Bridget's psyche or soul is forever wounded by some of the choices she is forced to make. One may say she murders or lies in self-defense. I believe that if evil people are determined to destroy me, then they don't deserve to hear the truth.
Sam Thomas has created an utterly disturbing morality tale that is rife with murder, mystery and intrigue. It is a fast-paced nightmare ride through 17th century England during the height of the witch hunting frenzy; it turned neighbor against neighbor, friend against friend, and relative against relative. Lovers of historical mysteries and the occult will definitely want to read "The Witch Hunter's Tale." The novel ends on a dismal, somber note, which makes me wonder if there will be a sequel. I can only hope there will be one because I find Lady Bridget Hodgson to be an utterly fascinating heroine.