The Black Hours by Alison Williams



The author sent me a copy of this book (epub format) in exchange for an honest review (member of Rosie’s Book Review Team).

My rating:  4  of  5  stars

(by Goodreads)

‘Look upon this wretch, all of you! Look upon her and thank God for his love and his mercy. Thank God that he has sent me to rid the world of such filth as this.’

1647 and England is in the grip of civil war. In the ensuing chaos, fear and suspicion are rife and anyone on the fringes of society can find themselves under suspicion. Matthew Hopkins, self -styled Witchfinder General, scours the countryside, seeking out those he believes to be in league with the Devil. In the small village of Coggeshall, 17–year-old Alice Pendle finds herself at the centre of gossip and speculation. Will she survive when the Witchfinder himself is summoned?
A tale of persecution, superstition, religious fundamentalism, hate and love, ‘The Black Hours’ mixes fact with fiction in a gripping fast-paced drama that follows the story of Alice as she is thrown into a world of fear and confusion, and of Matthew, a man driven by his beliefs to commit dreadful acts in the name of religion.


Genre:  History novel based on the witch trials



It’s not safe here.’

Alice frowned. ‘Why? Where is Hannah? What has happened here? I must know.’

‘Where have you come from? You’re not from Halstead, or I’d know you.’

‘No, I’ve travelled here from Coggeshall. I’ve come to ask for…’

‘Shhh, did I not tell you not to speak of it? These are dangerous times, dangerous. Even with the trial today and it nearly all over, God help ’em.’for her.


My Opinion

The book introduces you to Alice, a 17-year-old girl and her grandmother Maggie. Matthew Hopkins, the Witchfinder General accuses them of witchcraft. I will not tell you more about the story than shown in the Goodreads plot description. This would spoil the fun of reading this book yourself.

With The Black Hours, Alison Williams has created a compelling story of women accused of witchcraft and their Puritan prosecutor Matthew Hopkins. The Black Hours is a story based on historic events, Matthew Hopkins’ activities were done ‘in God’s name’, and show some pitch black hours of history, indeed; 200-300 women had to die. Alison Williams did a thorough research and elaborated a gripping read. It is a story that grips and holds you in its spell. I felt rather close to the events, at times a little too close for comfort. All characters very believable for this time in history. It is easy for the reader to decide if someone is friend or foe. The Black Hours is a good read for fans of history novels, readers who can put up with this intense story.


About the author

I have been writing ever since I can remember – scribbling down and (badly) illustrating stories in exercise books whenever I wasn’t actually reading (which was most of the time when I was awake). After getting married and having two children, I worked in education until deciding to bite the bullet and do what I have always wanted to do which is to write full-time – it only took me until my forties! I now work as a freelance writer with articles published on line and in magazines. From 2011-2012 I studied for a Masters in Creative Writing with the University of Glasgow. As part of my studies I wrote my first novel ‘The Black Hours’ – available now on Amazon.

History fascinates me – but not so much the kings and queens, the emperors, the military heroes or the great leaders. More the ordinary people whose lives were touched by the decisions, the beliefs and the whims of those who had power over them and who now fill our history books. When I was about ten years old I went with my family to visit Winchester Cathedral. As we wandered through this magnificent building with its arches, its pillars, its carvings and beautiful windows, my mother was looking less than impressed. Wasn’t she inspired? Awed? No, not at all – ‘All I can think of’ she said ‘is the poor buggers who had to build it.’ And that remark has stayed with me since. What was it like to be one of those ‘poor buggers’ toiling to create the soaring Gothic arches of Winchester cathedral? Or a 17th century mother living in London, scared to death as the plague took hold? How did it feel to a woman in Berwick-Upon-Tweed in 1296 watching the English troops storming through the town? And what about all of those accused, tortured and horribly murdered in the witch trials that swept through Europe? How did it feel to be one of those women, terrified and desperate? It is this that fascinates me – how it was for the ordinary people, caught up in events they couldn’t control. It is their stories that I want to tell.
I would love to connect with any readers – find me on facebook (Alison Williams Writing), on Twitter, on Goodreads or visit my blog.


Connect with the Author:


Please take a look at my statement on reading in My train of thoughts on …reading.  Now I am asking you.  🙂

My questions for you bibliophiles:
What about you?  What did you think about The Black Hours?  Or – if you did not yet read The Black Hours  – are you now interested in reading it yourself?

My question for you cinephiles:
If The Black Hours was filmed – who should direct it, who could you imagine as actors?

I am looking forward to reading your comments.  🙂





10 thoughts on “The Black Hours by Alison Williams

  1. The Salem Witch Trials are one of the most fascinating times in history. I’m definitely picking this one up (though perhaps not right away: I’m already in the middle of a somewhat disturbing read, so I should probably give myself time to recover…)!

    • This story is about the English witch trials. This is as interesting as the Salem trials. ‘The Black Hours’ is a great combination of history and fictional story. You might want to read something funnier between your current disturbing read and this one. Humans can be the cruellest animals…

      • All too true, Karen. Definitely going for more of a lighter read before I pick this one up. 🙂

      • Aren’t we lucky that there are so many fab books out there – waiting to be selected and devoured? 😉
        Have a good one, Topaz!

    • Thank you very much for the opportunity to read and review ‘The Black Hours’. It is an impressive book, combining history and a gripping story isn’t easy – you did a great job, Alison!

  2. I’ve read this book and was quite horrified by the methods used and how people thought it was ok to treat fellow humans in this way. It was very sad how the frightened village people were bullied into saying and doing things to support those who pointed the fingers at the accused.

    • History can be quite disgusting. Especially under the cover of Godly deeds. Mass hysteria was another factor to be considered.
      The Salem trials are famous. It all started with three bored teenagers telling tales. Puritan life was hard on them, many chores, no fun. 19 people (witches and supporters) died – then the hysteria was over. The witch prosecutor reached a considerable age – he was convinced until the end that he did everything right in these times….

    • It is really good, Craig. I visited the Salem Witch Museum last year, therefore I knew what to expect regarding the witchfinders’ methods.

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