Sunwise is the second novel from Helen Steadman and is a direct follow up to the story she began with Widdershins; her debut. Widdershins was one of my favourite novels of recent years. It's a beautifully well crafted story of ordinary women caught up in a desperate man's campaign to rid the Scottish and English border areas of witches. You can read my review of Widdershins HERE
When I was asked to review Sunwise of course I jumped at the chance. I was delighted to receive such a a gorgeous package; my review copy came with a lovely corn dolly and two postcards. It's often happened that I have approached a second novel in a series with a sense of trepidation; worried that it won't live up to my expectations. With Helen Steadman's book I had no such worries and all of my high expectations were met. In Sunwise we once again meet Jane; mourning her mother as the seasons turn and her second child grows in her womb. John Sharpe meanwhile has fled Newcastle and arrived in Berwick where his fervent belief in the evil of women continues to grow and his mental state begins to fracture. For Jane everyday life has also become a mental struggle as Tom has returned from sea, unaware that Jane has married Andrew and the rift between the two men grows deeper as Andrew taunts Tom and it becomes clear that he tricked Jane into marriage. Jane feels that she cannot go on, desperate to create a life with Tom, they begin to plan a future elsewhere.
Helen Steadman is a powerful writer her characters jump from the page, fully realised and I read this book with bated breath, desperate to know what happened next. The story alternates between Jane and John's viewpoints and the tension is brilliantly maintained throughout. I cannot recommend Helen's books highly enough. The careful research that goes into the writing; on the traditions and superstitions of the period; the herbs and ointments that a healer or cunning woman would have used are clear but the storytelling is paramount. Highly recommended.
The blog tour continues