A Woman Named Sellers

Written by Sarah King
Review by Lynn Guest

In winter 1632, Jennet Sellers arrives at her cousins’ Lancashire farm. Only she and the cousins know that as a child she gave the evidence that condemned her whole family to hang for witchcraft. Guilt-stricken and living in fear of discovery, she has abandoned hope for a normal life. A family quarrel drives her to take refuge with Goodwife Lund, a wise-woman. When Jennet meets and falls in love with a sympathetic outsider, she dares dream of happiness, but her secret past is cruelly uncovered. With witch finders prowling the countryside, she and Goodwife Lund are in danger.

Based on fact, this is the second volume of the Witches of Pendle series. King reveals Jennet’s past gradually, which slows the pace, but as the authorities close in, the novel takes off and the reader is hooked. She is excellent on rural life in 17th-century Lancashire, and her characters are convincing products of superstition, prejudice and class divisions, particularly the helplessness of the uneducated faced with officials indifferent to their fate. Although the dialogue lacks period or local flavour, as the people are well-drawn, the plot and atmosphere carry the novel.