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The Black Hours Paperback – 24 Oct 2013


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Product details

  • Paperback: 276 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (24 Oct 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1492801402
  • ISBN-13: 978-1492801405
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.6 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,118,470 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I have been writing ever since I can remember - scribbling down and (badly) illustrating stories in exercise books whenever I wasn't actually reading (which was most of the time when I was awake). I trained as a journalist and, after getting married and having two children, I worked in education and as a part-time freelance writer until deciding to bite the bullet and do what I have always wanted to do which is to write full-time - it only took me until my forties! I now work as a freelance editor, feature writer and independent novelist.

I am fascinated by history - but not so much the kings and queens, the emperors, the military heroes or the great leaders. More the ordinary people whose lives were touched by the decisions, the beliefs and the whims of those who had power over them and who now fill our history books. It is their stories that I want to tell. As part of my Master's degree I wrote my first historical novel 'The Black Hours' based on the notorious Witchfinder General, Matthew Hopkins. I have also written a novella 'Blackwater'. I am currently working on my next full length novel, 'Remember, Remember', set during the Gunpowder Plot of 1605.

As an editor, I have edited books in a variety of genres including dystopian, memoir, erotica, fantasy and business. I work on a freelance basis for several academic writing companies where my work involves writing model essays, proofreading essays and dissertations and editing and improving academic work at all levels from foundation to Ph.D. standard. I copy write and edit for my husband's communications consultancy. I have taught creative writing with a focus on grammar, punctuation, creativity, voice and expression.


Product Description

About the Author

Alison Williams is fascinated by history – but not so much the kings and queens, the emperors, the military heroes or the great leaders. More the ordinary people whose lives were touched by the decisions, the beliefs and the whims of those who had power over them and who now fill our history books. What was it like to be a 17th century mother living in London, scared to death as the plague took hold? How did it feel to a woman in Berwick-Upon-Tweed in 1296 watching the English troops storming through the town? And what about all of those accused, tortured and horribly murdered in the witch trials that swept through Europe? How did it feel to be one of those women, terrified and desperate? These are the stories she wants to tell – how it was for the ordinary people, caught up in events they couldn’t control. Alison has been writing ever since she can remember – scribbling down and (badly) illustrating stories in exercise books whenever she wasn’t actually reading (which was most of the time when she was awake). After getting married and having two children, she worked in education until deciding to bite the bullet and write full-time. She now works as a freelance writer and author. Alison has a Masters in Creative Writing from the University of Glasgow and is currently working on her second novel.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By ELIZABETH on 7 Nov 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"The Black Hours" is an enthralling book, well researched, and beautifully written.

The author vividly describes the suffering and humiliation endured by Alice Pendle and her grandmother, when incarcerated by the odious self-styled Witchfinder General.

I thoroughly enjoyed it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Terry Tyler, author on 10 Aug 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
4.5 stars

I read this book over a period of a couple of days, which is a good sign - I was reading when I should have been writing!

I don't know much about rural life in this period of history, or indeed about the witch hunts of the time, but I reckon you can tell by the way The Black Hours is written that Ms Williams certainly knows her stuff - there's a piece in the back of the book that describes her research, and I'm glad to see she's writing more books about the ordinary people of the time; I shall be first in the queue.

My absolute favourite genre is historical fiction that teaches me more about a period, and this certainly ticks those boxes. The characterisation is excellent, as is the description, and the whole novel is very well structured indeed; no boring bits to skip read, not too much information to process all at once, etc etc. It shows so clearly how dangerous ignorance can be, and how easily people can be manipulated by those with cunning and the desire to impose their views and beliefs on others - nothing changes!

If you like intelligent, easily readable historical fiction, and are not put off by grim reality and 'earthy' description, I am sure you will enjoy this book as much as I did. Recommended
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Emily Robey on 28 Nov 2013
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'The Black Hours' - the detail is so realistic I felt like I went through everything with Alice and her Grandmother Maggie, the horrific torture they endured and their emotional and mental suffering. A very well researched novel that uncovers the murky distasteful way people lived their lives in the C17th and the fear that surrounded and destroyed these poor unfortunate women. I was disappointed when I reached the last page - didn't want it to be over! I can't wait for Alison's next book!
I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who loves historical fiction or anything that's well-written!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jessica Wilde on 21 Nov 2013
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I really enjoyed THE BLACK HOURS, which is a historical novel of the highest calibre. This is Alison William's debut novel, and I simply couldn't tell: her quality of writing is tremendous, her ability to take the reader back in time outstanding, and her talent for making history engaging is enviable.

The book, set in 1647, tells the grim story of the witch trials, describing in meticulously researched detail the persecution that women faced at that time, and the fear that pervaded society during the seventeenth century. A time I'd like to revisit only through fiction, and Alison Williams takes me back there just perfectly.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By June Little on 14 Aug 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This was such a gripping read. I almost read it in one go.
Set in the 17th Century, this fascinating story of ordinary women finding themselves persecuted due to rumour, ignorance and superstition, had some chilling resonances with recent historical events.
Unusually, the tale was told from the perspective of both persecutor and victim. For me, this racked up the tension to an almost unbearable degree - so much so, that at one point, I was sorely tempted to flick to the end just to make sure that all would end well.(I didn't - and no, I'm not telling.)
Brilliantly told.
A really compulsive read.
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Format: Kindle Edition
There has obviously been an enormous amount of research gone into this story and to have the narrative from the Witchfinder’s point of view as well as Alice Pendle’s makes for an even bigger impact. Added to that the fact that Matthew Hopkins is not a fictional character but was indeed a Witchfinder General, although this seems to have been self bestowed title, and believed to be responsible for the deaths of around three hundred women during the span of two years.

Hopkins, believing himself to be doing God’s work and regardless of how he acquires ‘confessions’ from terrified, tortured, persecuted and often elderly, women, is arrogant and condescending of those he considers beneath him. Reading from his point of view was quite unsettling because he is clearly deluded and totally self-absorbed, slyly influencing the superstitious, sometimes spiteful and misguided village people who need someone to blame for all that is lacking in their lives. He arouses only feelings of horror and incredulity at his actions and egotism. It’s a very powerful reminder of the prejudice and tyranny prevalent through the ages.

The mood and feelings of the time are captured perfectly. The small village of Coggeshall, where seventeen year old Alice Pendle lives with her grandmother Maggie, and it’s residents are described in fascinating detail, giving a comprehensive picture of life in the year 1647. A time when having skills in natural healing with herbs and plants could be misconstrued and used as justification for the charge of being in league with the devil.

Alice, in complete contrast to Hopkins, evokes complete sympathy, compassion and warmth. Her story is a living nightmare, chilling in the extreme, given these events occurred with regularity.
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