The metal contraption was an old scold’s bridle, something Matilda had only previously seen in picture books at her former home. The iron bands were dull, but any rust appeared to have been removed and the hinges showed traces of having been oiled. Her initial reaction was to draw back, attempt to resist having the cruel device placed upon her head, but she quickly realised that such an action was futile and likely only to earn her even more dire retribution.
Set in the latter half of the seventeenth century, in an England ruled by fear and superstition, this is a tale of ignorance versus wealth and so-called education where, despite the fact that the notorious Witchfinder General has supposedly died in disgrace some fifteen years since, his acolytes continue his nefarious work in the more remote villages and hamlets.
Greed, torture and a clandestine white slavery network are all intertwined here, where the wrong word, a misinterpreted glance, or simply a pretty maiden spurning the advances of a powerful admirer, can lead to a gruesome death, or worse still, a life of degradation, humiliation and constant agonies.
Add a handful of genuine witches, with their own speciality of ‘wyrd’ sex, abduction and torture, and life in rural Hampshire starts to become more than just a little precarious.