What a book! I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I knew that this would be the perfect spooky season read, and it was. I read it all in a single sitting on Halloween night and it certainly gave off the right feelings for the evening.
The book is told through the eyes of two characters, Patience and Rose, and two more different people you probably couldn’t find.
Where Rose is one with the land, following the old ways and determined to maintain her independence, Patience is intent on instilling her ideals in the minds of others and ensuring they follow what she believes in.
This book is very much about differences, and how it’s difficult to get them to align, but in order to ensure progression they must somehow work together. This is something that Patience and Rose never manage.
When reading this book I took an immediate dislike to the resolute and unmovable Patience. Every single thing she did just reinforced my view that she was the evil that dwelled in the village, not Rose, who was just carrying on living her life.
In fact, both the Vicar’s children, Earnest and Patience were the cause of all the trouble in the village. Before they arrived things had been going along rather smoothly, Rose didn’t know she was illegitimate, the memories of her mother’s horrific murder were not so clear in her head. Rose’s adult life hadn’t been disrupted at all. The moment the family arrives all of this changes and they are at the start of it all.
Helen Steadman’s skill with words has to be hugely commended. I have rarely disliked a character so much that I was actually longing for her to be put to death for her repeated false accusations against innocent women. It’s as though Patience suffered a mental disorder that caused her to act in such a way. Her possessive and protective manner with her brother is what led to the death of an innocent housekeeper and the cruel treatment of a pregnant Rose who had done nothing more than fall for a liar’s sweet words!
I know that this part of a series, but I felt that it read beautifully as a standalone and it’s a book that I would recommend to others because of that.
Such a horrifying period of history where women were persecuted and unable to stand up for themselves without being accused of being witches and putting their lives at risk.