The Burning Time

Written by Robin Morgan
Review by Dana Cohlmeyer

The Burning Time is a fictionalised account of the true story of the first woman to be tried for witchcraft in Ireland. Lady Alyce Kyteler, a practitioner of The Craft in the early 14th century, finds herself at odds with Bishop Richard de Ledrede, a man insistent on forcing the will of the Church on Ireland’s people. Torn between the two, the people support Kyteler as she fights to save their treasured way of life. What follows is a gripping tale that finds everyone fighting for their very lives.

Wow. I loved almost every bit of this book. The first eighty percent is a fantastic page-turner. Readers are drawn into this gripping story of the Inquisition in Ireland and the struggles the Church faced in the forced conversion of the Irish from the Old Religion to Catholicism. The plot shifts between Lady Alyce and Bishop de Ledrede and keeps the tension at a fever pitch. The characters are well developed and so believable that one can’t help but side with them both.

My only complaint is with the novel’s last section. It is frustrating: the tone, pacing, and characters change so quickly that it’s jarring. It feels as if the energy melts away. This is difficult to explain without divulging the end, but suffice to say, it left me gnashing my teeth.

In spite of this, the book is highly recommended for the story it tells and the way Morgan tells it. With an opening chapter ending with a figure on a horse roaring, ‘Merry Meet, this Samhain Sabbat. You need search for Me no longer. You have met the One you seek,’ readers can’t help but fly through the pages to find out about the One!