– ‘The Magic Of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –
Today I’m on the ‘To Snare A Witch’ blogtour, organised by Rachel’s Random Resources.
To promote this book I have a guest post written by the author, but b
About the Author :
Jay Raven is the author of Gothic chillers and historical horror reminding readers that the past is a dangerous place to venture, full of monsters and murderous men. He blames his fascination with vampires, witches and werewolves on the Hammer Horror films he watched as a teenager, but living in a creepy old house on the edge of a 500-acre wood may have something to do with it.
If you would like to be informed of new releases, enjoy free short stories and access exclusive giveways and competitions, please subscribe to Jay’s monthly newsletter on his website.
A Chilling historical tale of lust, sorcery and devastating revenge
No female dares spurn the lecherous advances of Sir Henry Cruttendon, 17th Century England’s most reviled nobleman. To do so risks a retribution that would terrify the Devil himself.
But Elizabeth Fiennes is no ordinary woman, blessed with stunning beauty, intelligence and guile. Coming from an influential family, she believes she is safe.
What she doesn’t understand is that the Earl is determined to satisfy his lust and plans to use the wave of witch trials, fear and superstition sweeping the countryside to force her into his clutches.
And as he springs his malicious trap it triggers a chain of unholy events plunging hunter and prey into a maelstrom of deceit, terror and depravity – leaving them both staring into the face of true evil…
Guest Post :
Gothic horror writer Jay Raven reveals why he won’t be burning witches at the stake any time soon.
It’s a given in any film on witchcraft and witch trials. Before the closing title some poor screaming innocent is going to be strapped to a pole atop a bonfire, vicious dancing orange flames licking around their writhing body as smoke swirled and piles of faggots crackle and flare at their feet.
We’ve all come to expect that blazing scene – packed full of dread, danger and shock, guaranteed to chill us with horror and make us all glad that we live in modern times when such atrocities no longer take place.
And when I began to sketch out my 17th century sorcery series To Snare A witch I fully intended to have a scene like that in the very first book – to give everything a sense of period and a suitably sinister tone.
But it didn’t take long for me to realise that my necromancy drama series, set in England in the 1600s, was going to be wildly inaccurate if I did that – because my research showed that witches weren’t burnt in England but were actually hanged.
Unlike Europe and Scotland where practising witchcraft was a religious crime (an offence against God), in England and America it was classified as a civil offence, a crime against the community. That meant it was technically a felony, and the punishment for felonies was the gallows.
Obviously I was surprised – I’d been brainwashed by years of Hammer Horror films and other Hollywood chillers – to automatically assume that firelighters and kindling were a necessary prerequisite for any witch killing.
And I was annoyed too. Incorporating nooses and hangmen was going to mean a major rethink but eventually I accepted it. And I hope that in Bell, Book andCandle – part one of the spellbinding series, I’ve come up with an alternative scene just as frightening and grizzly. It’ll be up to readers to let me know.
Finding out about this misnomer in the way we view history made me wonder how many of the other things we thought we knew about witchcraft trials were actually wrong. And it turns out, there’s quite a few.
For one thing, very few witches were actually burnt alive – even in Europe where there were estimated to be some 40,000 executions. Yes, most of the condemned were incinerated on huge pyres, but the practise was to snap the neck of anyone found guilty before their corpse were immolated. So the plaintiff cries for mercy from amongst the flames was all film-maker’s stretching the truth.
Indeed, our picture of witches being exclusively old women – the stereotypical wart-nosed old crone – was off beam too. Many men were tried and executed under Witchcraft Laws, and of the females put to death a fair many were young girls, accused by love rivals.
But perhaps the most intriguing myth is that the execution of witches increased dramatically in England under the reign of James the 1st. He was notoriously obsessed with the subject of necromancy and believed he was under constant threat from dark, demonic forces. He even wrote a book on the subject, entitled Daemonologie.
But although he revised and strengthened the existing witchcraft laws in 1604 making any kind of magic or invocation punishable by death, the updating contained a clause that actually hindered witch-finders and magistrates in their task of exposing those in league with the devil. Up until then the torture of suspects was commonplace and most were convicted upon their own confessions – made in agony, dismemberment and despair.
But the act banned torture and unsurprisingly the numbers of accused confessing plummeted. Securing a conviction became much harder and for the last nine years of James 1st’s reign, only five souls were hanged for witchcraft.
The Magic of Wor(l)ds