The Shadow of the Witchfinder – book 15 in Wendy Leighton-Porter’s marvellous Shadows from the Past series. 15, you ask? Well, since the last one I reviewed Wendy has inserted Max’s novellas into the sequence. That means I have not listed two of them (although I did review Max’s Arabian Adventure last year). I skipped Max’s Halloween Adventure, which immediately precedes this one.

Indeed, I’d planned to skip this one, because I find the Witchfinder era extremely unpleasant, both UK and US. It’s a bit like choosing not to read about the Holocaust for pleasure. I could list other historical events, but I’ll stop there. Why did I change my mind? Because I’m using the excuse of the Finishing the Series Reading Challenge to catch up.

shadow of the witchfinder
fabulous cover!

The Shadow of the Witchfinder (Shadows from the Past #15)

by Wendy Leighton-Porter

In 17th century Essex, at a time when most people believed in witchcraft, the name Matthew Hopkins was enough to strike fear into the heart of many a woman who lived alone with only a pet cat for company… for Hopkins was the Witchfinder General.

The 15th book in the Shadows from the Past series takes the time-travelling foursome back to the year 1646. It isn’t Max’s first visit to the village of Mistley Thorn but, this time, his friends Jemima, Joe and Charlie are by his side.

Their mission is to bring an end to Hopkins’ campaign of terror. Will they succeed, or might this prove to be their most dangerous challenge yet? (goodreads)

My Review

Once again, Wendy Leighton-Porter has thrown the intrepid trio of Jemima (great name), Joe and Charlie into a critical moment of history. Well, maybe not all that critical. Although it does appear that the Witchfinder General died a somewhat mysterious death, so who knows?

The format for the story continues as before, which is great. The children go through their time-travel mechanism, but their cat Max has been freelancing, and has been sent back to fetch them by one of the potential victims of the witchfinder, Hopkins.

This is the first time I’ve been aware of Max’s episodes having a crucial link to the Shadows stories ‘proper.’ The gaps are filled in, but this book seems shorter than usual, and more dependent on the predecessor. I’m not sure I wouldn’t prefer a more complete story, but in truth, maybe the Witchfinder episode isn’t complex enough to offer the usual twists. Also, the children’s choice of outfits for their adventurer, having researched Hopkins at Max’s request (as a result of previous journey) is mind-blowingly stupid. I found that part of the plot outrageous, because the kids are usually relatively sensible.

So I had to mark it down a star from the usual five. Not that it isn’t really well written, full of excellent events and guaranteed to keep any 9-12 year old turning the pages. And if you’re enjoying the series (as I am) you’re going to read it anyway. As I did, even reluctantly. I’m looking forward to the next one, sort of. One of my favourite historical events, but I think they’re going to get into dreadfully hot water in it.

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Book Review | The Shadow of the Witchfinder
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3 thoughts on “Book Review | The Shadow of the Witchfinder

  • 26 February, 2022 at 11:55 am
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    Thanks for the review, Jemima. If you’re not averse to reading Max’s solo adventures, the next title in the series – Max’s Royal Adventure – is relevant to an event that occurs in the book that follows it. However, it’s not essential to read it if you prefer to just dive straight into The Shadow of the Great Fire!

    Reply
    • 26 February, 2022 at 2:17 pm
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      I managed to top my Kindle up with Max’s adventures during your recent promotion 🙂 I love reading Max’s adventures… it just added a lot of titles to the Series Challenge!

      Reply
  • 28 February, 2022 at 2:19 pm
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    The title is very enticing and I hope that the youngsters reading the book enjoy it. It’s sometimes hard to see a book through the lens of a kid. I found when I was teaching middle graders that things they liked were odd to me!

    Reply

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