Set in Lincoln in the 1380’s, Karen Maitland’s ‘The Vanishing Witch’ follows Robert Bassingham, a wealthy cloth merchant, and his family as he is pursued by the beguiling widow Catlin.
Blinded by her charms, Robert soon allows Catlin, along with her daughter Leonie and her son Edward, to worm her way into his life. Catlin has no qualms about pushing his existing family aside along the way, allowing nothing and nobody to get in her way. But the two families are haunted by a sinister figure that lurks in the shadows at their every turn. And after one too many unnatural deaths, suspicions and fears are rife and tensions threaten to come to an ugly head.
The book is set against the backdrop of the Peasants Revolt. Through Gunter, a punter on the River Witham, and his family, we get a glimpse into the hardships of life as a peasant, the hardships visited on the poor when they couldn’t pay their ever increasing taxes. Intimidation from royal enforcers was extensive and the demands unattainable. This story of revolution is woven throughout the book to create an atmosphere of general unrest and used as an interesting device to drive the main plot forward. It offers a fantastic insight into a period of history that I personally know very little about. Continue reading