The Daylight Gate – Jeanette Winterson

The Daylight Gate

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Hammer (14 Mar 2013)
  • Source: Review Copy
  • My Rating – 4 stars

The Daylight Gate is a short, compelling novella about the trial of the Pendle Witches in 1612.  I didn’t know much about the historical background to these events but the author’s introduction provides a brief summary plus the admission that she has played around with the facts and added some of her own inventions.  I don’t have a problem with authors reworking historical events as it can revitalise and add spice to well-worn stories but perhaps the real purists would be advised to stay clear of this version.

The plot is simple as is the language and Winterson doesn’t spare the reader’s blushes in presenting a gruesome picture of a wild, lawless society.  Lancashire wasn’t top of James I’s favourite destinations as he considered the region the nub of witchcraft, popery and all that was wrong in his kingdom.   Not for the faint-hearted, this story includes torture, rape, incest, child abuse but this seems fitting for a time when women were second-class citizens and those women who seemed more intelligent and more powerful than their male counterparts were the first to be debased.

The Daylight Gate is a different twist on a familiar story and it has certainly piqued my interest in the Pendle Witches.  I look forward to reading more about these intriguing women, starting with Mist over Pendle and Daughters of the Witching Hill.

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  1. Charlie says:

    As long as an author let’s you know they’ve messed with the facts then that’s usually ok, and makes it admirable even. Sounds a very informative book.

  2. admin says:

    My thoughts exactly, Charlie. :-)

  3. Winterson is one of those authors I keep meaning to read but then don’t. This actually appeals to me more than something like Oranges are not the only fruit.

  4. admin says:

    It’s a short read, Sam, so worth a shot!

  5. Marie says:

    This sounds fascinating, until recently I was working in Pendle & the history of the area is so interesting. Did you see the news story about the witch cottage discovered by archaeologists a year or two ago?

    So spooky! Although I think they’ve had to re-bury it now to keep it preserved.

  6. admin says:

    I did see that article Marie and yes, I find it all quite fascinating. I’m keen to read more about Pendle.

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