The Witching Tide

The Witching Tide, a 17th-century drama by Margaret Meyer infused with bewitching darkness, is set during a late summer heat wave in the fictional English seaside town of Cleftwater, a tight-knit community steeped in superstition that is forever changed by the arrival of a sinister London lawyer claiming to be a witch hunter. Mute since childhood, Martha Hallybread has lived in Cleftwater all her life, and is known for the healing tinctures she makes, her medicinal herb garden, and her midwifery skills. She is an enigmatic protagonist, the dark legacy of her past a painful memory even as she lives a peaceful life in the employ of a young couple, Master Kit and the heavily pregnant Mistress Agnes.

This is the first novel for England-based Meyer, who is a formidable storyteller; her sharp descriptive powers offer readers an immersive experience into Martha's silent world. As the pompous and self-important lawyer wreaks havoc on the women of Cleftwater with his witchcraft investigation, Martha turns to the strange little wax witching doll her mother left her, unsure of its powers but certain that she alone cannot save her friends and Mistress Agnes from the witch hunter's dangerous reach.

Perfect for fans of Margaret Atwood and Hilary Mantel, The Witching Tide is the remarkable story of the women who survived cruel, unjust imprisonment and went on to reclaim their rightful place in a community forever diminished by the hanging of so many innocent women. It is also a forceful interrogation of what happens when pious paranoia, stoked by ignorance, engulfs men already drunk on their own power. --Shahina Piyarali, reviewer

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