The Leviathan

The Leviathan

It’s 1643 and the English Civil War is raging between King and Parliament.  Young Thomas Treadwell returns on leave from the fighting to his family farm near Worsted, North Norfolk.  He has received a disturbing letter from his younger sister, 16 year old Esther.  As he reaches the edge of their property, Thomas finds dead sheep lying in the field.  At the house he learns that his father is seriously ill in bed, unable to communicate.  And Esther has accused a new female servant of improper behaviour and witchcraft – a very serious complaint.  The servant is now being held in the cells at Walsham – or North Walsham as we would call it today.

Flash forward to 1703 and Thomas’s wife comes to tell him. “She is awake!’.  The ‘she’ referred to is kept in a locked room at the top of the house.

Back in 1643 Thomas is going through his father’s papers and finds a document relating a story told to him by a mariner, of how he had gone aboard a wrecked ship to find everyone dead apart from a young baby, and how the ship had been taken down by a sea monster.  A true story or a sailor’s drunken tale?  And then strange, inexplicable deaths start to occur.

Rosie Andrews cleverly draws out these threads into a complex mystery set in a period of suspicion and superstition.  From a modern viewpoint we’re left to decide whether this is a tale of mental illness or demonic possession.  This is a dark, compelling tale, hard to put down.

The Leviathan by Rosie Andrews
Paperback 320 pages; Raven Books (Bloomsbury)
ISBN 
9781526637369; RRP £8.99

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