This is the story of Emma, a London career girl who inexplicably is drawn to a cottage on the north Essex coast. She begins to dream about a historical character from the cottage and as the story unfolds she begins to realise that she is not the only local person being haunted by the past.
The historical setting of this story is Matthew Hopkins, Cromwell’s Witchfinder General from the 17th Century, and his hunt and persecution of witches in the area.
Where is it set?
It is set in Mistley and Manningtree which are in North Essex.
Who are the main characters?
The story is centred around Emma and the spirit of the witch Liza, whose cottage it is that Emma moves to. As the story unfolds other characters begin to assert themselves including the local vicar, a modern day white witch and a TV crew who are hoping to catch some ghostly goings on inside a shop that is said to have been Matthew Hopkins’ inn in 1644.
How well is it written?
I thought this was extremely well written – the characters are well rounded and totally believable (if you can suspend your disbelief about ghosts speaking to modern day people through dreams that is!) and I couldn’t tell if there were any plot holes in the overall thing. The local area was well described and the atmosphere of the Essex marshes was conjured up perfectly for me.
My overall impression?
I like ghost stories, and I like historical fiction too so this book was right up my street. I really wanted Emma to sort her love-life out too which appealed to my sense of romance. A cracking tale, well told, just enough “spook” in it to be scary without resorting to reading it in daylight and just enough historical detail to make it interesting without coming across as a lecture. It prompted me to go and read more about Matthew Hopkins and I want to visit the area it is set on our holidays this summer, so yeah, you could say I loved this!
Will I read the next in the series?
This is a standalone book but Barbara Erskine has written several stories in the same sort of genre as this. My first taste of this type of time-slip setting was “The Lady of Hay”, also by Barbara Erskine and I have to say that she is pretty much a master at it.
Would I recommend it to my friends?
Yes I would. If you are interested in history, a bit of romance, a bit of a ghost story and the good old battle between good and evil then this book is for you.
Pam’s heart rating: 5/5 ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
- Lady Of Hay, Barbara Erskine (victorialovesbooks.wordpress.com)
- Gallery: Historic oak in Mistley – thought to be oldest in the country – inspires book (eadt.co.uk)