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Sam Thomas Delivers Stellar Third 17th Century Mystery Novel: The Witch Hunter’s Tale

Sam Thomas has recently published The Witch Hunter’s Tale, the third novel in his Midwife Mysteries! I have all the information below, plus my review of this stellar third mystery featuring midwife detective Bridget Hodgson.

witch hunter's tale_MECH_01.inddPublication date:
January 6, 2015

St. Martin’s Press
Formats: eBook, Hardcover
Pages: 320

Series: Book Three, The Midwife Mysteries Series
Genre: Historical Mystery

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Sam Thomas takes readers back to Puritan England with midwife Bridget Hodgson, hailed by the Cleveland Plain Dealer as “one of the most fascinating detectives in contemporary mystery fiction.”

Winter has come to the city of York, and with it the threat of witchcraft. As women and children sicken and die, midwife Bridget Hodgson is pulled against her will into a full-scale witch-hunt that threatens to devour all in its path, guilty and innocent alike.

Bridget—accompanied once again by her deputy Martha Hawkins and her nephew Will Hodgson—finds herself playing a lethal game of cat and mouse against the most dangerous men in York, as well as her sworn enemy Rebecca Hooke. As the trials begin, and the noose begins to tighten around her neck, Bridget must answer the question: How far will she go to protect the people she loves?

Review~

I love the midwife historical mysteries by Sam Thomas! He had me hooked from the first one, which was called A Midwife’s Tale and introduced us to the kind, hard-working, no nonsense midwife Bridget. I am not overly into midwifery by any means, but Sam takes his historical research experience of the 17th midwife life and couples it with period details and societal, religious, and political intrigue to plot out fabulous murder mysteries, which of course, Bridget inadvertently becomes involved in solving. He does also highlight the profession of delivering babies as well, which I’ve found has become quite interesting in its technique and manner. As a mom, it makes me cringe thinking what women went through back then in regards to childbirth.

Based on the idea that a midwife with a good name and some wealth can move just about anywhere in the street without the need of a man or husband, Sam can put his lead character Bridget in a good place to really search out clues that might not be an option for many other women in that era. Plus, she’s privy to all kinds of information that would be hard for anyone else to collect as she listens to her female clients’ gossips and understands the nature of all families in the area, whether wealthy or poor. The times are quite heated between people due to the English Civil War, which creates an air of fear and violence.

I have to say that this third mystery, A Witch Hunter’s Tale, has been my favorite of all so far. It could be because I am really interested in the history of witch hunts as well as witches, magic, and alchemy in history. The fact that the book’s mystery delved around the frantic time of the witch hunts being performed in South England, and religious fanaticism taking its hold northward where the series is set, truly had my attention the entire time. I do believe, however, that it’s also Sam’s finest novel to date due to his underlying tones of the persecution of women, and the double standards the laws created against women, as well as his portrayal of the religious fanaticism of the time and how it effected the country’s people and political structures.

I had just recently mentioned to another 17th century British mystery novelist, after reading a post on this site from Cat Cavendish about the infamous 17th century witch hunter Matthew Hopkins, that he’d be great to include in a mystery novel! Then I opened Sam’s book and saw his name mentioned! He wasn’t a character in Sam’s book, but there was some threatening of bringing him in to the area to pull out all the witches. However, the political leaders of the area, including Bridget’s uptight nephew, Joseph, and her nemesis, Rebecca, a former midwife, want all the power for themselves. They start hunting for witches and collecting them in the “gaols,” which Sam writes about with utterly horrid details that allow you, unfortunately, to smell and visualize the surroundings in a way that makes you never want to be transported to that time and place. However, his vivid descriptions are one of the amazing things about this book and they truly allow the reader to feel the plight of these suspected women.

So how does a midwife become involved in witch hunting? Since a midwife is concerned in birthing, she also serves to care for a woman’s body, therefore, she would be able to verify if a woman were a witch by finding a teat or witch’s mark on the body. Due to this, Bridget is quietly worried they will ask her to perform this exam, for if they are determined to hang someone as a witch, and have other proof, but as a midwife she finds the examination clear, she could be called a witch herself! Luckily, she has enough family prestige to not have a finger pointed at her, but some people will go to any means (even lying or killing) as a Searcher to torture and hang women, putting the fear of God into all the area.

Once the murder has occurred in the novel, Bridget becomes wholly invested in finding the truth, as her other nephew Will, of whom she treats like a son, is accused and thrown into jail by his own brother. Martha, Bridget’s trusty deputy midwife (and deputy amateur detective alongside her), are on the case to redeem Will’s name and save his life.

Other themes explored within this novel are Bridget’s inner emotions over losing her two children when they were young, as well as her husband. This happened in her life before even the first novel, and as a midwife she finds joy in delivering babies and had seemed to put it mostly out of her mind. But in this third novel, the author really examines her feelings of their deaths and how it effects her spirituality, her take on life and God’s role in it, her connections with those she has now come to love, and with the addition of little Elizabeth (an orphan) coming to live with Bridget, I saw more of her nurturing side in a way that really endeared me more towards the midwife. His character development of Bridget, as well as the other supporting characters in this novel, became more dimensional and deep. Plus, I just love how this sleuth and sidekick (Bridget and Martha) are female leads, with the men in supporting roles!

In The Witch Hunter’s Tale, Sam writes with great historical details, sensational description, deep and heartfelt emotion, and a formidable plot that kept me guessing and turning the pages right up to the end. I’d highly recommend this book, both in the series and as a stand alone, to anyone who loves mysteries or 17th century English life. He truly connects the reader to this era in northern England, which is ripe with strife, confusion, religiosity, and fear, and shows us how one woman can care for an entire town, and her hodgepodge of a family, just by opening her heart.

witch hunter's tale_MECH_01.inddPraise for the Midwife Mysteries Series~

“Sam Thomas has created one of the most fascinating detectives in contemporary mystery fiction—a crime-solving, wealthy, widowed midwife in embattled 17th-century York, England. . . . Bridget is as fascinating, fun and fierce as ever.” —Cleveland Plain Dealer on The Harlot’s Tale”Besides making his heroine a plausible sleuth, Thomas conveys the challenges of midwifery without clumsy exposition.” —Publishers Weekly (starred) on The Harlot’s Tale

“As pleasurable as his mystery is, the true thrill here is Thomas’s lively portrait of 1644 York and his unique heroine.” —Cleveland Plain Dealer on The Midwife’s Tale

“A briskly plotted historical mystery starring a pair of brave, tenacious, intelligent women who take no prisoners and make no apologies.” —Lyndsay Faye, author of Gods of Gotham

“Thomas is a historian by profession and it shows in the wealth of detail with which he recreates the city of York amid the turmoil of the English civil war.” —Rhys Bowen, author of the bestselling Royal Spyness series

“A heart-stopping page-turner coupled with a gritty and realistic portrayal of two strong and contrasting woman characters vividly depicted against the backdrop of the besieged city of York.” —Cora Harrison, author of I Was Jane Austen’s Best Friend

“The gripping story, fascinating characters, and intriguing era make Thomas’s debut mystery a reader’s delight.” —Priscilla Royal, author of The Killing Season

“Thomas’s fiction debut is packed with fascinating information about a midwife’s skills and life during the English civil war. The ingenious, fast-paced mystery is a bonus.” —Kirkus Reviews on The Midwife’s Tale

“Everything rings true in historian Thomas’s superb first mystery. . . Authentic details of life in 17th-century York complement the whodunit’s intelligently concealed clues.” —Publishers Weekly (starred) on The Midwife’s Tale

Buy the Book~

Amazon (Hardcover)
Amazon (Kindle)
Barnes & Noble
iTunes
IndieBound
Powell’s

Author Sam Thomas, Biography~03_Sam Thomas

Sam Thomas has a PhD in history with a focus on Reformation England and recently leaped from the tenure track into a teaching position at a secondary school near Cleveland, Ohio. Formerly, he was an assistant professor of history at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. He has received research grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Newberry Library, and the British Academy. He has published articles on topics ranging from early modern Britain to colonial Africa. Thomas lives in Ohio with his wife and two children.

For more information please visit Sam Thomas’s website. You can also find him on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

The Witch Hunter’s Tale Blog Tour Schedule~

Monday, February 9
Review at With Her Nose Stuck In A Book
Spotlight at What Is that Book About

Tuesday, February 10
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Spotlight at The Lit Bitch

Wednesday, February 11
Spotlight at Susan Heim on Writing

Friday, February 13
Spotlight at A Literary Vacation

Monday, February 16
Review at Book Babe
Spotlight at Let Them Read Books

Tuesday, February 17
Review & Interview at The Emerald City Book Review
Spotlight at The Never-Ending Book

Wednesday, February 18
Review at Back Porchervations

Thursday, February 19
Interview at Back Porchervations

Friday, February 20
Review at Build a Bookshelf
Spotlight at Passages to the Past

Monday, February 23
Interview at Mina’s Bookshelf
Spotlight at Historical Fiction Obsession

Tuesday, February 24
Review at A Book Geek

Wednesday, February 25
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews

Thursday, February 26
Review at Beth’s Book Nook Blog
Spotlight at Brooke Blogs

Friday, February 27
Review at Oh, For the Hook of a Book
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time
Interview at Caroline Wilson Writes

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Our Fabulous Fantastic Trip to the Samhain Horror Hang-out at HorrorHound Cincinnati Convention!

This Friday, Tim and I drove three hours to Cincinnati for FearNet.com’s HorrorHound Magazine Convention to see some of our favorite author friends who were there signing books with their publisher Samhain Publishing/Horror.

For those of you not familiar with HorrorHound, it’s primarily a horror film festival that’s gravitated from a film focus into so much more. It’s a weekend long event with big film and television draws such as this year’s Walking Dead cast, director John Carpenter (Halloween, Christine), Robert Patrick (Terminator 2, X-Files), the real 1958 Plymouth Fury that starred as the car Christine (Stephen King), and the list goes on (check out www.horrorhoundweekend.com). Vendors, music, and even a Zombie ball entertained people during the event; many stand in line for hours to pay for photos with their favorite TV stars like Norman Reedus.

It was such a draw in fact that they had unforeseen numbers for their opening day of Friday. Thousands lined-up to get in a get a glimpse at some of their favorites. We waited in line for over three hours, but oh, it was worth it!!  Thank goodness there was a little sun, as just a few days later we’ve had a snow blizzard!

Here’s a cool Instagram (follow me…Erin Al-Mehairi) that I took, with a view of a case with all Christine book covers that have been created over the years…..

Christine

Samhain Publishing , an established romance publisher, launched its Horror line of books several years ago and is now a major sponsor. With that, some of my favorite dark fiction and horror writers and directors came in for the weekend to sign their items at the Samhain Horror booth.

Those amazing authors who were there on Friday were Brian Moreland, Jonathan Janz, and Kristopher Rufty. David Searls, also from near Cleveland, Ohio like us, was there on Saturday afternoon. In this post, I’d like to highlight each of them, some of whom have new releases coming up. Then, I’ll note some deals and dates you might be interested in as we wrap-up the post! Read to the end and get a coupon for a free book!

And here’s a photo of me and the guys (L-R: Jonathan Janz, Brian Moreland, me, Kristopher Rufty)… of course I keep look toward JJ and laughing……

Stuff and HorrorHound 2013 177

We had a blast hanging out and talking with them on Friday night. People who don’t always read horror may generalize or stereo-type that word sometimes, but these guys are not only amazing people who are very kind, they are great spinners of their craft…writing the tales we sometimes see in our heads and creating entertainment for the dark recesses of our minds that give us break from all our worldly stress.

Brian, Jonathan, and Krist have been extremely important inspirations to me as a person, a writer, a journalist, and as an aspiring author. All with varying personalities, they’ve shown me support and/or given advice that is priceless to me. And they’ve made me love to read horror!!

We also had a great time meeting Meli Hooker, who writes for Dreadful Tales! What an amazing mind in a tiny little body! Meli is super fun and seemed to take in everything as a newbie to her first horror con. 🙂

So a little about these authors, their books, and upcoming releases….

Brian Moreland is the author of Shadows in the Mist and Dead of Winter. I’ve known Brian for a few years now, ever since Samhain opened its horror line.  Though we’ve talked numberous times, it was great to see him in person and he’s just as friendly and endearing in the flesh.  Brian writes for the screen, so with his books you find a cinematography you might not expect that is extremely gratifying.  He writes very visually and you’ll feel drawn in to the story.

Stuff and HorrorHound 2013 168You can read some of my past posts with Brian on my site, such as my review of Dead of Winter by clicking HERE, which is one of my favorite books of EVER, an interview I did with Brian HERE, and a guest post about Shadows in the Mist HERE, a book which has had years of extreme success that was re-released this year from Samhain Publishing/Horror.

And here is an Instagram photo of Brian holding the artwork my two daughter’s ages 9 and 5 made for him….they tried to make him scary photos but they still included flowers of course!! LOL!

Brian with kid's pics

Coming in July and August 2013, Brian has several items publishing this summer called The Girl from the Blood Coven (July 2013 – free short story prequel) and The Witching House (August 2013 – novella).  And Brian created his own covers!!

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Then, The Devil’s Woods (novel) is coming out in December of 2013, all from Samhain Publishing’s Horror line. I hope he won’t mind me saying, but I was able to read a first version of his novel last summer and I absolutely loved it. I can’t wait to publicly announce that it will be on my Top Favorites Ever list along with his other book.  He’s made some really great updates to it since then and it will be a hit for fans of Native American legends and spooky happenings in isolated forests.  Want a sneak peek at The Devil’s Woods, you can go here:  http://brianmoreland.wordpress.com/2012/09/16/excerpt-of-the-devils-woods-coming-2013-10-2/.  You can find more on Brian at his website at www.brianmoreland.com or find him on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Jonathan Janz is the author of The Sorrows, House of Skin, and the soon-to-be released The Darkest Lullaby (novel – coming April 2, 2013 –  I’m the new proud owner of a signed copy from HorrorHound) and Savage Species, a serial horror novel first for Samhain Publishing that’s coming June 4 and hitting every couple of weeks until end of July, 2013!  You can pre-order to download the first installment right now, for FREE by going to:  http://store.samhainpublishing.com/night-terrors-p-7384.html.

He’ll also have Dirt Devil (a vampire western!!) coming out in February 2014 from Samhain.  You can read my review of The Sorrows HERE and our interview HERE. I LOVED the fun time I had reading The Sorrows, it’s superb!!

thedarkestlullaby_v2-1

I’ve gotten to know Jonathan well over the past year, after he launched The Sorrows and I was one of the first to interview him. It was wonderful to meet him in person as his energy and aura are certainly contagious.  His writing style is completely nothing like his real life persona. He’s bubbly and sweet, but his writing is tough, dirty, intelligent, and emotional.

Me and Craig

This weekend at a separate location, Jonathan was recognized with House of Skin as the First Runner-Up in the Darrell Awards, which is a panel in the Mid-South that recognizes authors, or authors with characters from their region, that they feel are the best published in science fiction, fantasy and horror!

You can keep up to date with Jonathan about his life, his writing, and his upcoming books by following his blog at http://www.jonathanjanz.com  and you can see his latest post where he talks about his award, HorrorHound, and yours truly in fact (beaming!) here:  http://jonathanjanz.com/2013/03/24/house-of-skin-named-runner-up-at-darrell-awardshorrorhound-cincinnati-updates-galore/. Jonathan is also on Facebook and Twitter.

Kristopher Rufty is the writer/director of the movies Psycho Holocaust, Rags, and Wicked Wood, and also the author of Angel Board (novel), The Night Everything Changed (novella), The Lurkers (novel and The Night Everything Changed is a prequel to it), A Dark Autumn (novella), and coming in August 2013, Oak Hollow (novel which I scored a signed print copy of at HorrorHound!!).

I have a review of A Dark Autumn HERE, which is a novella you’ll want to read this year for its visceral content. I dare you NOT to be moved by this piece of work.  I also loved his novella The Night Everything Changed (which you can download FREE now here:  http://store.samhainpublishing.com/night-everything-changed-p-6931.html ) and the first chapter of The Lurkers, which I plan to read in whole soon.

Stuff and HorrorHound 2013 175I’ve just gotten to know Krist this year through the other Samhain authors, but I was immediately impressed. His quiet demeanor is not an indication of his writing, which is far from mild.  It’s extremely raw, intense, and in-your-face. I can see why he has such increasing popularity and is already a horror icon. I was so happy to get to meet Krist in person. He’s really a kind and gentle person who pours his heart feverishly into his writing.

OakHollow

You can follow along with Krist at his Last Krist on the Left blog:  http://lastkristontheleft.blogspot.com/ and follow him on Facebook and Twitter. Urge him to tweet or drop him a line. He’s been a mad-man writing machine for months and he has not only a bunch of books already published but quite a few upcoming! Samhain quickly publishes many manuscripts so they are fresh and you can still feel the authors sweat on the page….ok, not literally.

We didn’t get to see author David Searls, who signed books at the Samhain booth on Saturday. However, I want to mention David as he’s from near the Cleveland, Ohio area where we are also from. Tim, in fact, used to work with David and we are happy to support his authorship pursuits! He’s written hundreds of magazine articles, columns and essays, with a byline that has been carried by People Weekly, The Cleveland Plain Dealer Sunday Magazine, USAToday.com, Cleveland Magazine, and many more.

He’s written and published three books, including the horror novel Yellow Moon, which was first released by Warner Books and will be re-released by Samhain Publishing/Horror on June 4, 2013 with an AWESOME new cover.

YellowMoon72lg

In 2012, two of his horror novels, Bloodthirst in Babylon and Malevolent, were published by Samhain Horror. I’ll be happy to review these novels as I hear he’s a superb writer, especially in the vampire genre. I also am intrigued by his books having Ohio locales….or maybe since I live in Ohio, that should scare me a little more….

Samhain Publishing did a great job highlighting their authors and had some fun bloody needle pens to giveaway that my daughter just loves using (haha!), red mechanical pencils (I am in love with mine) and of course, having various other titles for sale. They have some great writers on board like one of my favorites, Ronald Malfi, as well as Hunter Shea, Frazier Lee, Bryan Smith, David Bernstein, Damien Walters Grintalis (who is pictured as being at the event but was unable to make it) and many more.

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You can find all kinds of book, including horror titles and those aforementioned fabulous authors, at www.samhainpublishing.com or www.samhainhorror.com.  Thank you, Samhain, for letting me report on the event and your fabulous authors!

Happy Reading!

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