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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Short, readable, atmospheric
I enjoyed reading this one afternoon over the Christmas holidays, so I was surprised to read the many negative reviews and wanted to restore some balance.

I freely admit I don't know a lot about the Pendle trials, and I do have a thing about historical accuracy, so this would possibly have annoyed me if I were an expert, but I have checked with a friend in the...
Published 17 months ago by A Ryder

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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Messy and muddled (review contains spoilers)
I've loved a lot of Winterson's writing, and have enjoyed other books in this Hammer series - but sadly this combination just doesn't work here. Taking her cue from the real case of the Pendle witches, Winterson pulls together a heady brew of Satanism, anti-Catholicism, rape and sexual violence, torture and death.

The problem is that there's far too much going...
Published 13 months ago by Roman Clodia


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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Defies easy definitions!, 15 Aug 2012
By 
Adrian Drew (UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Daylight Gate (Hardcover)
An interesting novella which brings an additional dimension to both Winterson's previous work and the Hammer "genre" itself.

The writer has considerable "style" and from the opening sentences about "the north" you know you are in the hands of a master (mistress?) crafts-person.

However the book does feel rather more like a treatment for a potential film project than a fully fledged novel. There is little sense of developed characterisation and some errors in detail (eg how long it would have taken to get from France to Lancashire etc). As a result you don't really engage in the narrative or really care about the characters or plot.The biggest problem is identifying who this book is intended for and this has been picked up in several paper reviews. Still, breaking the rules is very typical of JW and this mixture of magic, historical fact and decidedly "gothic" chills, defies easy definition. So with very substantial caveats I would recommend it as a pre-Hallowe'en read or for anyone visiting the Pendle area who wants a rather more imaginative re-telling of the story of the local witches than those pamphlets available at the tourist information centre. However this book is neither 'Mist over Pendle' or Aimsworth's 'The Lancashire Wiches' both of which have considerably more detail and narrative power. "The Daylight Gate" is simply a rather slight "diversion" which left this reader occasionally entertained, bemused but ultimately unsatisfied - and as an admirer of Winterson and much of her work, disappointed too.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Ridiculous!!, 3 Dec 2013
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This book was a great disappointment. It is poorly written and the wallowing in cruelty, violence and extreme poverty seems gratuitous and insincere. The characters are poorly drawn and the narrative construction is confusing. Any political point about the persecution of poor, isolated women is lost with the invitation to the reader to accept the possibility of magic and witchcraft.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Ghastly gothic, 28 Nov 2013
I very rarely give a book one star, but I found the violence and abuse in this quite sickening. I skipped several passages about torture because they were so unpleasant to read. I know that it was a dark and cruel time but I was unsure of the motive for including so much abuse in this book, the incest and child abuse was a step too far.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Muddled and hastily written, 7 Oct 2013
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I've read a couple of Winterson's novels and thought her autobiography (Why be Happy when you could be Normal?) was one of the best books I read last year, so I thought I would try her latest novel.
Unfortunately it comes across as hastily written (the hardback copy I received from Amazon was riddled with typos), the language is not particularly evocative, and the ideas behind the basic plotline are muddled. I found a lot of it completely implausible and I didn't really feel any empathy for any of the characters. The talking head just made me laugh (sorry!)
I wasn't expecting historical accuracy, but from Winterson I would have expected a bit more scepticism and a feminist outlook on the events of 1612, not so much actual real witchery popery popery witchery, which just came across as faintly ludicrous. I don't mind graphic details, but to be honest a lot of this was lurid and trashy.
Of course, writers don't always do what you might expect them to do, and that's fine, but it just didn't work for me. Probably didn't help that I'd just finished Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel, and as a piece of historical fiction this didn't match up to it in any way, shape or form.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't waste your money !!, 3 July 2013
As an avid Lancashire Witch novel reader, all I can say is that the only talent in this book was by whoever designed the cover. Very lazy writing, the author just took a local story stuck a bit of smut and child abuse in. Feel cheated. They always say never judge a book by it's cover.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Witches, 12 Nov 2012
By 
Gillian Thompson (Herefordshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Daylight Gate (Hardcover)
I was disappointed in the book - it just seemed a regurgitation of the known facts with a bit of unnecessary and gratuitous sex... a shame as this is a good writer with a fascinating subject!
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3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars, 1 July 2014
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This review is from: The Daylight Gate (Hardcover)
Its okay ,read better
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3.0 out of 5 stars NOT A BAD READ, 31 Mar 2014
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NOT A BAD READ .....A BIT OF A SILLY ENDING BUT IT STARTED OFF VERY GOOD.....WILL GIVE IT 5 OUT OF 10
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3.0 out of 5 stars The Daylight Gate, 1 Oct 2013
By 
S Riaz "S Riaz" (England) - See all my reviews
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This novella length read is based on the most notorious of English witch trials - and also the first to be documented - that of the Lancashire (or Pendle) witches in 1612. I know virtually nothing about these events, so I cannot comment on how realistic an account this is, but they are interesting for several reasons; not least because one of the 'witches' on trial was a woman of higher social status and wealth than usual. Winterson weaves a tale around these events, although it is a slightly confusing and extremely dark version that she portrays.

The book begins with pedlar John Law who is taking a short cut through Boggart's Hole in Pendle Forest. It is close to dusk, the so-called 'daylight gate'. He falls and, as he struggles up, he finds Alizon Device in front of him. She curses him when he refuses to stop and then Law sees her grand-dam, old Demdike, with a dead lamb in her arms. Soon he stumbles into the local inn, having, it seems, lost his wits on the way. The women are part of a poverty ridden clan, who live on the land of wealthy Alice Nutter. Alice is single, independent and wealthy - having made her money from the invention of a dye which caught the eye of Elizabeth I - and that is enough to make people whisper 'witch'. For it is less than ten years since the Gunpowder Plot, when Catholic conspirators fled from London to Lancashire - one to Alice Nutter's home. James I is on the throne and Catholicism and witchcraft are seen as virtually interchangeable. Suspicion abounds and, of course, witchcraft is used as an excuse to abuse and violate the poor and defenceless in society.

Winterson does evoke a really atmospheric time and place, although it is not a period of history that I imagine many people would want to return to. The men in charge seem to use the law to their own ends - the word 'witch' is a useful one to throw at a neighbour with whom you have a property dispute, and child abuse, rape and ducking women seem like innocent amusements when men have tired of the inn. The author does not seem to be clear about whether or not to make the women themselves innocent either, with disturbing scenes of grave robbing and the casting of spells; plus side stories about Shakespeare, John Dee, lesbian love affairs, religion and politics. Perhaps the book itself is simply too short to carry so many storylines, although I am glad that I read it and it certainly has an interesting amount to think about. It is my book club's Halloween read and I imagine that it will provide us with a lot to discuss for such a short story.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Vivid detail..., 17 Nov 2012
By 
jaffareadstoo (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Daylight Gate (Hardcover)
Reminiscent of Robert Neil's "Mist Over Pendle" - The Daylight Gate seeks to add mischief and mayhem to the well know history surrounding the Lancashire Witches. Dark and dirty , the seamier side of life in the shadow of Pendle Hill is imagined in vivid detail and the lives of the unfortunate women castigated for witchcraft is explored in graphic and torturous detail.

In this 400th anniversary year of The Pendle Witch Trial, this novella adds nothing new to the story but given the advantage of focusing the story on the horrible fascination of supposed witchcraft, it does suffuse the legend with a certain amount of grim horror.

Whilst the story pulls no punches and isn't for the faint hearted, I found that I was gripped from the beginning.
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The Daylight Gate
The Daylight Gate by Jeanette Winterson (Hardcover - 16 Aug 2012)
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