I so enjoyed Widdershins by Helen Steadman, reviewed here, that when a copy of the sequel Sunwise arrived from the lovely folk at Impress Books in return for an honest review, I was genuinely delighted.
Sunwise was published by Impress on 1st April 2019 and is available for purchase here.
The sequel to Helen Steadman’s Widdershins, when Jane’s lover, Tom, returns from the navy to find her unhappily married to his betrayer, Jane is caught in an impossible situation.
Still reeling from the loss of her mother at the hands of the witch-finder John Sharpe, Jane has no choice but to continue her dangerous work as a healer while keeping her young daughter safe.
But, as Tom searches for a way for him and Jane to be together, the witch-finder is still at large.
Filled with vengeance, John will stop at nothing in his quest to rid England of the scourge of witchcraft. Inspired by true events, Sunwise tells the story of one woman s struggle for survival in a hostile and superstitious world.
My Review of Sunwise
Witch finder John Sharpe is back to rid the world of his perceived evil.
Having so enjoyed the fabulous Widdershins by Helen Steadman, I knew I was in for a treat with Sunwise and I wasn’t disappointed. There’s a glorious and frequently harrowing intensity to Helen Steadman’s narrative style, coupled with a vibrant historical accuracy that hypnotises the reader and transports them to a world of superstition, tradition, religion and persecution. I cannot begin to express just how authentically accurate Sunwise is, or to comprehend the level of diligence and research that must have gone in to its creation. This is a marvelous example of historical fiction.
I thought the plotting of the novel, with alternate chapters given to John Sharpe and Jane Driver exemplified perfectly the balance of good and evil, religion and superstition, women and men. Sunwise presents a seventeenth century world as vividly as if the reader is experiencing it first hand and yet with themes that are as fresh and relevant to today’s century – from abuse to corruption, greed to love. It’s impossible not to be drawn into the events because of the fabulous quality of Helen Steadman’s writing.
The fervour of John’s obsessive religious viciousness is thoroughly terrifying, and he’s a character I could hardly bear to read whilst simultaneously being unable to avert my eyes. He brought out the very worst in my personality and I wished him personal pain and suffering with a passion that made me feel quite uncomfortable.
Conversely, Jane enhanced all that is good and positive in the face of adversity. I desperately wanted her to have a happy ending and you’ll have to read the book yourself to find out if my wishes were fulfilled!
If you love historical fiction that is authentic, fascinating and compelling with characters that thrum with life then look no further than Sunwise. Helen Steadman has established herself as a brilliant writer with the power to be as spellbinding as any of the witches John Sharpe is hunting. I thought Sunwise was brilliant and connot recommend it highly enough.
About Helen Steadman
Helen Steadman lives in the foothills of the North Pennines, and she particularly enjoys researching and writing about the history of the north east of England. Following her MA in creative writing at Manchester Met, Helen is now completing a PhD in English at the University of Aberdeen. When she’s not studying or writing, Helen critiques, edits and proofreads other writers’ work, and she is a professional member of the Society for Editors and Proofreaders.