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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All the classic Borman ingredients but on a darker theme
After reading her superb books on Henrietta Howard (mistress of George II), Elizabeth's Women (the women whose influence shaped Elizabeth I) and Matilda (the wife of William the Conqueror), I was fascinated by what would happen when Tracy Borman's brilliant and engaging writing style combined with the much darker theme of Witchcraft. The result doesn't disappoint in any...
Published 20 months ago by Stephen Kuhrt

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Cauldron barely simmers
Halloween seemed a good time to read Tracy Borman's account of sorcery in early 17th century England. However, it did not put a spell on me.

The case of the Belvoir witches is discussed briefly by Catherine Bailey in The Secret Rooms: A castle filled with intrigue, a plotting duchess and a mysterious death. I hoped this would be a full account of the tragedy of...
Published 5 months ago by gerardpeter


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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All the classic Borman ingredients but on a darker theme, 29 Aug. 2013
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After reading her superb books on Henrietta Howard (mistress of George II), Elizabeth's Women (the women whose influence shaped Elizabeth I) and Matilda (the wife of William the Conqueror), I was fascinated by what would happen when Tracy Borman's brilliant and engaging writing style combined with the much darker theme of Witchcraft. The result doesn't disappoint in any way as Borman uses the story of the 'Belvoir Witches' - Joan, Margaret and Philippa Flower - as a window through which to examine the disturbing phenomenon of 'Witchcraft' during the seventeen century. As usual, Borman narrates the story brilliantly building suspense through the way in which the book moves back and forth between dealing with the detail of the Belvoir case and the issue of Witchcraft more generally. The evidence is meticulously presented and carefully examined with all Borman's skill for making the key characters involved really come alive in the mind of the reader. Once you start reading this book you will find it very difficult to put it down - truly 'history as it should be written' as Alison Weir said of 'Elizabeth's Women'. The versatility of Tracy Borman is quite extraordinary and it will be great to see what she turns her formidable mind to next!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Cauldron barely simmers, 12 Nov. 2014
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This review is from: Witches: A Tale of Sorcery, Scandal and Seduction (Kindle Edition)
Halloween seemed a good time to read Tracy Borman's account of sorcery in early 17th century England. However, it did not put a spell on me.

The case of the Belvoir witches is discussed briefly by Catherine Bailey in The Secret Rooms: A castle filled with intrigue, a plotting duchess and a mysterious death. I hoped this would be a full account of the tragedy of Joan Flower and her daughters, Margaret and Phillipa. According to the author sources are richer for this case than most, because it involved nobility. She also claims to have uncovered a murderous conspiracy at the heart of the injustice.

In fact no records at all remain of the actual trial and really not much of anything else besides. Reliance is placed on a short anonymous pamphlet of 1620. Tracy Borman admits even this is sensationalist, confusing and contradictory; much of it is probably untrue.

This leaves a lot of space to fill between the book's covers. Some background on the period is essential, of course. There is some interesting stuff in this, too - the life of the Marquess of Buckingham makes for a good section. The author made me realize that at a time of widespread popular belief in magic , the "witches" themselves shared many of the assumptions of their persecutors.

However, of the Belvoir itself she has not got much to say - simply because not much is known. Her promised revelation of a murderous conspiracy is a big let down - speculation gone crazy.

As Hilda Lewis showed a long while back in The Witch and the Priest, there is a novel here, where standards of proof may be relaxed and imagined possibilities created. But you can't write a history book of "possiblies..maybes...we can speculates..could haves.."..
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Sensationalist, 2 Oct. 2013
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I purchased this book expecting an unbiased and objective account of the Belvoir witches.Sadly, I was hugely disappointed. Although apparently well researched and written in a clear, accessible style, the author's limited knowledge of witchcraft becomes apparent, resulting in several errors. For example, Henry Holland's 'Treatise against witchcraft' was not the first work published in England, nor was it a pamphlet. Similarly, England did not have the highest proportion of female suspects. However, the worst aspect of the book is that despite the author's bold claim that the 'Machiavellian' George Villiers, then marquis of Buckingham, 'would mastermind a conspiracy that has remained hidden for centuries', no real evidence is provided to back up the claim that he arranged to have the earl of rutland's sickly youngest son done away with. Buckingham was accused of many crimes, and he and his family were derided and lampooned in numerous scurrilous ballads and poems, yet he was never accused of such a crime, nor were there even any rumours, despite being accused of poisoning King James I in 1625, along with his mother, the Countess of Buckingham and Prince Charles, later Charles I; a charge to which few reputable historians give any credence. The supposed evidence is purely circumstantial, and made to fit, presumably, to give more spice to the tale.
I cannot recommend this book, which I found sensationalist and prejudiced. If readers are interested in a work on witchcraft which is accurate and written without bias,then Malcom Gaskill's,'Witchfinder: A seventeenth century English Tragedy' is superb.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Jacobean and African parallels, 28 Dec. 2014
By 
G. J. Weeks (London) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
An horrific account of Jacobean witch hunting centering on three women accused of witchcraft against the heirs of the aristocratic Manners family, Earls of Rutland. Late in the book comparison is made with traditional African beliefs and this is indeed the parallel. In both cases there was ignorance of the causes of disease and death. Illness or misfortune was attributed, not to natural causes but to someone exerting a malevolent influence, witchcraft here, juju in Africa. Jacobean women faced a legal system loaded against them. No counsel for the defence. A woman's testimony needing two women witnesses to have the same weight as that of one man. I learned this was canon law. When did it cease? Shari'a law is the same today. We are informed that these horrors lessened as scientific understanding grew. I would also surmise that the teaching of Biblical Christianity with its emphasis on the ultimate defeat of evil would have a positive effect too. The book wonders if James I favourite, the Duke of Buckingham who married the Manners heiress may have been implicated in her brother's death.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dark but really interesting, 3 Sept. 2013
By 
Gareth Wilson - Falcata Times Blog "Falcata T... - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Witches: A Tale of Sorcery, Scandal and Seduction (Kindle Edition)
I love to read about events that I don't really know much about and whilst I was aware of the Witch Hunts in England (specifically the ones in Lancashire) I wasn't as up on the events that occurred within this title brought to the reader in a factual yet interesting way by author Tracy Borman.

Whilst explaining in great detail, the reader is never left to feel that they're getting too much information at once, the author brings it over in an easy to comprehend manner and when added to an obvious passion by the author to bring history to life all round makes this a great book to enjoy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing study of belief in Witchcraft, 15 Oct. 2013
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Tracy Borman quickly engages the reader with her consideration of true-life witchcraft cases from the past. Not only does she examine the famous ones, but she also delves into lesser-known examples.
The detailed descriptions of torture and ruthless interrogation are not for the faint-hearted!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 26 Dec. 2014
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This review is from: Witches: A Tale of Sorcery, Scandal and Seduction (Kindle Edition)
Had to read this as as part of a reading group. It was disappointing for me so much so that I only read the first couple of chapters
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Historical Horror, 24 Sept. 2013
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This review is from: Witches: A Tale of Sorcery, Scandal and Seduction (Kindle Edition)
Tracy's book is as much about poverty as witchcraft, for the suffering of women often brought them to severe mental illness, when they needed charity not malice. Many were cold-bloodedly murdered, with full sanction of the state. Such a book does make one realise how lucky we are to live in more enlightened times, although we are not entirely out of the wood, for many recent events prove that fanaticism is not dead, and that horror gets ever nearer. Tracy's book teaches us never to glamorize history, for superstition was a pervasive killer; and no less a person that King James was a rabid, merciless witch-hunter. Her book is a historical horror: read once, and never forgotten. Recommended.
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4.0 out of 5 stars this was a great companion piece as it is the historical events that ..., 19 Mar. 2015
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Having read the Witch and the Priest By Hilda Lewis, this was a great companion piece as it is the historical events that the book was based on.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars, 21 Dec. 2014
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easy to read lots in there to surprise reader. Haven't finished yet !
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