The King’s Witch by Tracy Borman
Already a great historian, Tracy Borman proves with this thrilling debut novel that she is also a born storyteller.
As she helps to nurse the dying Queen Elizabeth, Frances Gorges longs for the fields and ancient woods of her parents’ Hampshire estate, where she has learned to use the flowers and herbs to become a much-loved healer.
Frances is happy to stay in her beloved countryside when the new King arrives from Scotland, bringing change, fear and suspicion. His court may be shockingly decadent, but James’s religion is Puritan, intolerant of all the old ways; he has already put to death many men for treason and women for witchcraft.
So when her ambitious uncle forcibly brings Frances to court, she is trapped in a claustrophobic world of intrigue and betrayal – and a ready target for the twisted scheming of Lord Cecil, the King’s first minister.
Surrounded by mortal dangers, Frances finds happiness only with the precocious young Princess Elizabeth, and Tom Wintour, the one courtier she can trust.
Or can she?
The novel opens with our protagonist Lady Frances Gorges at the Longford estate. We become aware she is of noble birth and has a passion for seeking herbal remedies. When the Reverend Pritchard (the new local priest) preaches warnings of witches, Frances knows she must heed caution.
‘I have done nothing against the laws of god or nature. I only use my medicines for good’ – Frances
Frances must withhold her skills or bring the attention of Lord Cecil and those whom seek a witch to blame. . . .
Frances is appointed to the household of Princess Elizabeth by King James. Her parents and sisters are banished to Richmond, tainted by their association to the previous Queen. Frances is alone and filled with worry. She makes an unlikely friendship in Thomas Winter, but is he all he seems. . . .
Lord Cecil takes Frances to witness the hanging of a local witch at Tyburn. He is issues her a stern warning, that leaves her in no doubt, she must be on her guard
‘I am watching you’
When Lady Arbella is accused of witchcraft, Frances is certain an accusation will be yielded against her. With the plotting and scheming of royal court, there are eyes everywhere.
Who can Frances trust? And does she carry the devil’s mark?
A novel rich in historical detail and accuracy, with a spellbinding tale and a feisty young protagonist. 4*