The warning was there. But they did not heed it.
Dunwich, Suffolk, 1615. The King’s Men are performing a tale of witchcraft and ambition, murder and death. Firm friends Priscilla, Elizabeth and Aubrey, fourteen years old, watch in excitement and horror as the story unfolds. That day never leaves them.
Thirty years later they are seized, accused of witchcraft by the same man who will stop at nothing to destroy them. As Dunwich crumbles into the sea, and with their friendship damaged by betrayal and lies, they face the hangman’s noose. How will they survive?
History has left us their confessions. This is the story of their lives.
The latest novel from L M West, ‘We Three’ is woven around the real-life confessions of three women from Dunwich.
East Anglia, in 1645, was the centre of one of the most brutal persecutions in England. Led by Matthew Hopkins, the self-styled Witchfinder General, and aided by his colleague John Stearne, over a two-year period the two men set off a chain of events which reverberate down through history to this day. Hundreds of people, mainly women, were accused, tried and often hanged as suspected witches, and the cruelty of their accusers knew no bounds. Their bodies were firstly searched for so-called witches marks, then they would be watched, sat without sleep for hours if not days.
The two men travelled up from Essex, separating when they reached Suffolk, to spread a trail of destruction throughout the eastern counties. They moved from interviewing suspects themselves and providing guidance to towns and villages to being hired to search out witches. It is said that in their short reign, they sent more people to the gallows than had been executed in the previous 160 years.
L M West tells the story sensitively and sympathetically, from the point of view of the women accused and the novel is based on extensive research.
‘We Three’ is the third novel about the East Anglian witchcraft persecutions. Her first novel, ‘This Fearful Thing’, is the story of a woman accused in Southwold. Her second, ‘The Unnamed’, tells of the seven women accused when Aldeburgh invited Matthew Hopkins to their town.