‘This Fearful Thing’ by LM West

My Review (5 stars out of 5)

1645, Suffolk. After fleeing her childhood tormentor, Ann moves to Southwold where years later she marries and has children. Content with her life, she believes the past is behind her. But when a familiar face returns to torment her, Ann finds herself accused of witchcraft. With women in nearby towns put on trial and hanged as witches, Ann has plenty to be fearful about.

Inspired by actual events, this is a historical thriller and is Ms West’s first book (a second, The Unnamed, is out now). The story is set in East Anglia, an area I lived in for several years, so I’m familiar with Southwold and the surrounding countryside. The story is told from Ann’s point of view and gives a vivid account of what it must have felt like to be accused of witchcraft at a time when suspicion, gossip and fear could send a woman to the gallows simply for looking at someone. For the most part, Ms West’s prose is a delight – her descriptions of the landscape, changing seasons and the day-to-day routine of village life are beautifully recreated and wholly authentic, her use of language filled with imagery and clever wordplay. Having said that, the book could do with another edit as there are lots of missing full stops, capital letters and several missing words. However, this did not spoil my enjoyment of the book and I’m looking forward to reading the next one.

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