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The Hellion

By Harriet Young

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A dark, chilling thriller about three of the women accused during the 1612 Pendle Witch Trials

Publication date: March 2021
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About the book

August 1612, Pendle, Lancashire. The most infamous witch trials In British history have just taken place, leading to the execution by hanging of eight women and two men. Most of the accused were members of two families from the local area, with a long, animus and intertwining history. The star witness was a nine-year old girl, Jennet, and her evidence led to the deaths of her sister, brother, mother and grandmother.

June 1537, Whalley, Lancashire. After the razing of Whalley Abbey, young Elizabeth is an orphan. She is taken in by her friend Annie’s grandmother, where she learns secret charms and incantations. In a time when your religion can be as deadly as poison, everything is treated with superstition, and everyone is suspected.

Growing into adulthood then marrying and raising a family in an impoverished household, the notorious Malkin Towers, Elizabeth does the best she can with what she has. But the more things go wrong, the more Elizabeth has to rely on her wits to survive. And wits in a woman are deeply disturbing.

Elizabeth and her family experience unlucky blow after unlucky blow, in a time when illness and poverty were rife. And it doesn’t get easier for the future generations, either. Elizabeth’s grandchildren, Alizon and James, struggle through life; James as a labourer and occasional thief and Alizon as an unpaid scivvy for her family.

The whisper of witchcraft had always hung over the family, but when baby Jennet is born – Alizon and James’s sister – everything seems to get much, much worse.

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