The Merrybegot Paperback – 4 Aug 2011
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Superb (The Times)
This truly superb novel will have your heart racing, your hands sweating and your brain whirring. You must read it. (Guardian)
Powerful and intriguing, The Merrybegot bewitches and beguiles from first to last. (Celia Rees)
Hearn has the skill of a conjuror and her novel casts a spell (Sunday Times)
There's plenty more fire and brimstone to be found in Julie Hearn's The Merrybegot, which layers fact and fiction, the earthbound and the supernatural to atmospheric effect. (Observer)
The Merrybegot combines magic realism and historical fact in a formula that Julie Hearn has made her own (Sunday Telegraph)
A stunning and evocative novel by this hugely talented writerSee all Product description
Top customer reviews
The historical elements of this story mix well with the fictional tale of Nell, and I was easily caught up in the events as Nell tries to stay true to her heritage while escaping the fate Hopkins has in mind for her. It's a very enjoyable story, with great characters, a rattling plot, and a good twist in the tale, too!
The story is great all the way through. Nell is a Merrybegot, one protected by The Powers - like her "cunning woman" granny, she a healer of illness, deliverer of babies, the one to turn to in times of woe. Far away but about to intrude, is a purge against witchcraft - for a fee, Witch-Finder General Matthew Hopkins only too keen to expose unsavoury practices, the gallows to follow.
Hysteria mounts and passions boil over - helped along by the spiteful tiny piskies so adept at sniffing out trouble and fanning the flames. (Fairies are little use, they most tetchy and not to be trusted.)
All in all, there is quite a mix, the various strands skilfully interwoven. The climax excites, with an interesting aftermath.
From the very start I was engrossed, happy to be swept along by such literary exuberance. In short, a veritable treat.
In the Merrybegot, there are all of the usual elements you'd expect in a novel featuring supposed witchcraft. There's more than a passing similarity to the Salem Witch Trials and even that notorious Witch Finder General, Mathew Hopkins, rides in for a couple of scenes of interrogation.
The Merrybegot in question is a young girl, trainee midwife and healer, born with a natural affinity to the law of nature and living in a world of Fairie, Pixie Law. She's a type of New Age child born before her time and spends her days roaming around the countryside, casting spells and just being at one with nature. Ufortunately, for this little Merrybegot, the daughter of the local minister has a real problem and when she reaches out for help, that help is refused - for very genuine reasons.
From that point the plot takes a trip away from the sun, the fields and the animals and follows a path into the dark, spiteful and revenge soaked heart of the minister's daughter. The change from light to dark is nicely worked to add extra texture. The little Merrybegot faces an uncertain future as she stands accused of witchcraft.
There are many other 'Witchy' books available for this age range but this one goes a little further. It contains moderate scenes of pregnancy/childbirth/torture while the dialogue tends to be on the strong side. I wouldn't recommend it for younger children for those reasons.
Only a short novel, just 266 pages of well spaced, large print, and I read The Merrybegot in two sittings.
Most recent customer reviews
It started off ok, a young girl Nell and her cunning granny are potion makers,...Read more
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