Monday 13 November 2023

#Blogtour Solstice by Helen Steadman

It's a pleasure to take part in the Blogtour Solstice by Helen Steadman.

About the Author 

Helen Steadman's first novel, Widdershins and its sequel, Sunwise were inspired by the 1650 Newcastle witch trials. Her third novel, The Running Wolf is about a group of master swordmakers who defected from Germany to England in 1687. Helen's fourth novel, God of Fire, is a Greek myth retelling as seen through the eyes of Hephaestus, perhaps the least well known of all the Olympians. 

Helen is particularly interested in revealing hidden histories and she is a thorough researcher who goes to great lengths in pursuit of historical accuracy. To get under the skin of the cunning women in Widdershins and Sunwise, Helen trained in herbalism and learned how to identify, grow and harvest plants and then made herbal medicines from bark, seeds, flowers and berries. 

The Running Wolf is the story of a group of master swordmakers who left Solingen, Germany and moved to Shotley Bridge, England in 1687. As well as carrying out in-depth archive research and visiting forges in Solingen to bring her story to life, Helen also undertook blacksmith training, which culminated in making her own sword. Follow @hsteadman1650 on X (the artist formerly known as Twitter

About the book

England, 1673. Still a world of witches, witch trials and witchfinders. - When a new vicar arrives to take over the parish of Mutton Clog, the village finds itself in the grip of puritan fever, and suspicious eyes are turned on Rose Driver. Rose’s mother, brother and grandmother were all put to death by the fanatical witchfinder, John Sharpe.

Almost quarter of a century after the Newcastle witch trials, Sharpe is no longer a threat. Rose should be safe in her quiet village, but is history about to repeat itself?

Find out in Solstice, the powerful conclusion to The Widdershins Trilogy, which tells the story of one woman’s struggle for survival in a hostile and superstitious world.

The Widdershins Trilogy was inspired by the little-known Newcastle witch trials, where fifteen women and one man were hanged for witchcraft on a single day in August 1650.


The alternating views of Rose and Patience give an excellent overall view of how the majority of these witch hunts were created and driven, often to a disastrous conclusion. How the creation of doubt and rumour can become the perfect weapon of destruction, regardless of whether any accusation has any merit. Witch trials were a perfect way to tick quota boxes of the puritanical zealots who would rather have a living breathing scapegoat than accept not everything in life can be explained or predetermined.

Patience is the living breathing example of an almost innate hysteria grounded in false morality. How convenient is it to cast a shadow of doubt on others and in doing so to take a pedestal and elevate yourself to the higher spheres of saintliness. Can you tell she got on my nerves just a tad? It's interesting to note that the accused were unable to wash the stink of doubt from their reputations - such an efficient way to rid the world of people who don't fit in.

I really enjoyed how Rose is introduced and the innocent actions, words, thoughts so easily are twisted into something strange and threatening. The trauma she carries, and the empathy she feels for others, is perhaps part of her downfall.

This is the third book in the Widdershins trilogy, which the author has written with a bit of a reverse Star Wars vibe. It captures both the oddity, the tragedy and the repercussions of the accusations of witchcraft.  

Buy Solstice at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎Bell Jar Books pub date18 Sept. 2023. Buy at Amazon com.

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