Beta
X

06Mar

The Leviathan by Rosie Andrews review – a potent brew of civil war and witch trials

Mystery and fantasy weave a tangled web in this richly atmospheric debut novel set in turbulent 17th-century Norfolk

Witch trials, with their heady mix of religious fervour, misogyny and repressed desire, have held an enduring fascination for fiction writers. Rosie Andrews’s enormously enjoyable debut, The Leviathan, takes this familiar setup and makes of it something strange and original: part horror story, part fantasy, part historical mystery.

The body of the story takes place in 1643, at the onset of the English civil war. The narrator, Thomas Treadwater, a young man enlisted to fight for the parliamentary forces in order to redeem himself from an indiscretion with his tutor’s niece, returns for Christmas to his family farm in Norfolk with a sense of foreboding; his 16-year-old sister, Esther, has written to him of “a great ungodly evil” that has entered the house in the form of a new servant, Chrissa Moore. Tom arrives to find all their livestock dead, his father incapacitated by a stroke and Chrissa arrested for witchcraft. In order to delay her trial, she has claimed to be pregnant with his father’s child.

Continue reading...

Related

Ghost Lover by Lisa Taddeo review – in the company of men

The Three Women author once again explores female desire and sexual power dynamics in a collection o...

Read More >

The Bloater by Rosemary Tonks review – 1960s gem rescued from obscurity

This caustically comic tale of a disaffected wife, back in print for the first time in half a centur...

Read More >

Fight Night by Miriam Toews review – a paean to the strength of women

The Canadian author once again mines her cultural background in a wonderfully drawn celebration of i...

Read More >

You Have a Friend in 10A by Maggie Shipstead review – flawed lives fluently explored

The novelist shows her expertise in the briefer format in tales of sexual power, self-delusion and f...

Read More >

Lost & Found by Kathryn Schulz review – life-changing moments of love and death

A memoir by the Pulitzer-winning New Yorker writer offers a fresh look at the most profound experien...

Read More >

Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus review – the right comic formula

A tale of female disempowerment in the 50s and 60s gets a culinary tweak in this sweet revenge comed...

Read More >