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Sunwise  By  cover art

Sunwise

By: Helen Steadman
Narrated by: Christine Mackie
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Publisher's Summary

England, 1650. A sadistic witch hunter. An innocent healer and her child accused of witchcraft. Can they escape the hangman’s noose?

Filled with vengeance, John will stop at nothing in his sworn mission to free the world from the scourge of witchcraft. When his quest to vanquish evil is thwarted by Jane, he decrees that she must die. After defeating the witchfinder, Jane must continue her dangerous healing work. Alone in a hostile and superstitious village, she struggles to keep her little girl alive. Determined to keep his vow, the witchfinder must put mother and daughter to death. When John brings the witch hunt to Jane’s home, can she save herself and her child from certain slaughter?

If you like historical novels based on real witch trials, you’ll love Helen Steadman’s Sunwise, the sequel to Widdershins.

Recommended for fans of The Familiars, Tidelands and The Witchfinder's Sister.

©2019 Bell Jar Books (P)2022 Bell Jar Books

Critic Reviews

“The novel is rich in fascinating details: Jane’s remedies and the village customs, partly Christian, partly pagan. Ancient names for plants and festivities, both seasonal and Christian, add colour to the narrative.” Lynn Guest, Historical Novel Society  

 

“A great read, not to be missed. Steadman’s skillful and resplendent prose leads the reader easily into villages, manses and cottages, festivities and day to day lives, with amazing detail and descriptions of a past age that jump off the page of the novel. The historical research is rich; scenes and spaces, deliciously visual, and the language employed by the protagonists and throughout the narrative is authentic and consistent, transporting us back in time just by virtue of its ancient tonality.” Susana Aikin, We Shall See the Sky Sparkling 

"Sometimes charming, sometimes disturbing, and very firmly set in its time and place – don't expect an easy ride, though!" Lexie Conyngham, The Tender Herb 

What listeners say about Sunwise

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historical fiction sequel

This is the the sequel to Widdershins. It takes place not long after that book ends. Again this is historical fiction. This book is told from the view points of John and Jane. John descends further into madness and hasn't given up on getting Jane. Jane continues her own personal mission as well. John is certainly the worst villain you've ever read and you can't help hate. This is not a book I would ever normally read but I'm glad I gave it a shot.

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4.5 Stars - Great Addition to the Series

This story was well written and kept my attention. The narrator did a fantastic job bringing the book to life. I'm not sure if I liked the ending, I don't know that it could have ended any other way. I have so many questions that need answered and I think a spinoff would be nice.

I received a copy of this audiobook and I am voluntarily leaving my honest review.

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Baskerville Book Reviews

I’ve forgotten what I used to call sequels like this. It’s more of a second-half or part 2 than a sequel. You could read it without having read the first book, but a lot of references to past events wouldn’t make any sense. It’s a direct continuation of the story.

As for the content of this story, it wasn’t nearly as brutal or in-depth as the first one. It wasn’t poorly written, I wouldn’t call it bad, but I didn’t really enjoy it either. Much like the first book, I have little to say. I found both stories to be a depressing slog that is difficult to write a review for because I gained nothing from this experience.

The narrator does an excellent job, as she did in the first story.

NOTE: This copy was provided to me free of charge as a digital review copy. The opinions stated in this review are mine and mine alone, I was not paid or requested to give this book a certain rating, suggestion, or approval.

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Excellent Read and Historically Accurate

'Sunwise' is the sequel to author Helen Steadmans 'Widdershins' and it picks right up where 'Widdershins ends. It also is just as good if not better than its predecessor. It is not necessary to read 'Widdershins' first but I did and am glad of it.
Jane Chandler having been tricked into marriage with her fiancee's friend is thrilled and saddened when her lover Tom returns from sea, she had been told he was drowned in a downed ship. The lovers are desperate to be together as a family with their young daughter Rose. But Janes current husband is a jealous and cruel man and he slowly becomes more and more violent toward her. The young lovers devise a plan to leave for the new world and a new life. At the same time John Sharpe, the lascivious and evil Witchfinder continues on his campaign of terror and violence against women moving from town to town accusing women and some men of being witches and murdering them. It is clear he is criminally insane and he seems to escape punishment time and again until his wickedness drives him back to Jane's village so he can do away with her. This book was intense and sometimes hard to listen to, such superstition and cruelty all in the name of God. It is thoroughly researched and very well written The narrator did a fantastic job and deserves and A+ for her narration. I will be looking for more works by Helen Steadman. This was a great read, most highly recommended.

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gripping

Sunwise is just as gripping as the first book in the series! You don't have to read them in order but I would recommend it. There are a few details in the first book you will enjoy knowing as you continue the story of Jane & John! Helen Steadman does a fantastic job transporting us back to the 17th century! With characters you can’t help but like and the great world building The Widdershins series is a heartbreaking, gripping & fascinating story all in one! Happy reading everyone!

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Enjoyed the story

The intimate knowledge of herbal medicine adds spice to an already intriguing array of characters. The most memorable moment erupted for me when a certain despicable character was being his most despicable. This occurs in a few places. Read book one first!! The narrator is easy to enjoy. I was however happy the male character was identified at the start of his chapters as her adjustment to the male voice was very subtle.

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Sunwise

I read the first book of this series after receiving it for a book tour, I enjoyed it so much that I went right out to purchase the follow up. Sunwise begins where Widdershins ends. Tom has returned from his conscription in the Navy and Jane is forced to explain the circumstances that led her to be married to his best friend. Her husband is more aggressive than ever and her short-lived thanks to him for saving her from being jailed as a witch is over. In that storyline, Jane and Tom are discussing how to escape to the new world to be together. All the while, Jane is still midwifing and providing herbs to the local townsfolk (hello - what got you in trouble in the last book, girl?).

In our other storyline, John has escaped Newcastle after the town turned and is focusing his witch hunts back in Scotland. He is as mad as a hatter now. In the last book, he was easy to hate preying on women as witches blaming them for his own lusts and whims. But in this one, his derangement is becoming more obvious and we find out why. He's gone from a character who you cringe to read because of the impact he will have on your other beloved characters to a character who you're anxiously awaiting karma to visit.

The fates of these two are barreling towards one another again and we get to sit back and watch. As with the last story, there are some graphic violent moments which are hard to read/hear however these are the things that humans did to one another in the name of God, while this is fiction, it is based on the stories of real people who suffered such fates. Another fabulous piece of historical fiction!

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A bittersweet conclusion to Widdershins

This book picks up where Widdershins left off and brings the story to a bittersweet conclusion. I would have appreciated an epilogue, but this is a reasonable place to end the story.

The narration by Christine Mackie is consistent with her performance of the previous audiobook. I expect that I'll remember this story for quite some time.


Note: I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

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  • S. G-R
  • 11-20-21

Brilliant

I was given a promotional code for a copy of this audio book in return for an honest review.
I have read both Widdershins and Sunwise, having enjoyed both books I didn’t think the audio copy would be so good, I’m very much mistaken.
Sunwise is the follow on from Widdershins, the story of the Witch Trials is shocking but gripping, you can’t help but want to listen, even though it can be uncomfortable you need to know what happens next. Helen has obviously done a thorough research on the Newcastle trials. Christine has narrated the story very well and you become quiet fond of the character’s. It’s an emotional but a fantastic story, one I have recommended to so many people. Well done to Helen and Christine.

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  • Helen
  • 11-18-21

amazing

amazing history
Sunwise begins after the Newcastle witch trials as Jane Chandler’s lover,
hopefully they will be book 3

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  • Celticmouse
  • 11-14-21

Definitely a five star read


Christine Mackie does a wonderful job of reading this beautiful novel. I found myself listening at every opportunity, desperate to know what happened next and hoping for a happy ending.
This sequel to Widdershins is once again told from the same two points of view. That of John, the witch finder who had escaped his just deserts and set off in search of more ‘witch’s to persecute and revenge on Jane, the one who got away. Jane also continues her story in alternative chapters.
Jane's lover, Tom Verger has returned from sea to find her unhappily married to the man who was his friend. There are numerous betrayals that come to light but I don’t want to spoil the story.
It is inevitable that Jane and John's paths should eventually cross which they do with shocking consequences.
A story of love, betrayal, revenge, superstition and religious zeal, Sunwise is a fitting conclusion to the story begun in Widdershins. I thoroughly enjoyed it and highly recommend this five star read.

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  • dobby_the_house_elf
  • 11-16-22

Great to continue the story

Having enjoyed book 1 I was very happy to see same narrator for book 2

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  • Laura (TheBookishHermit)
  • 11-11-21

Raw, gripping and totally addictive

This is the sequel to the author's debut novel ‘Widdershins’ and what a sequel it is! Plenty of twists and turns with a good level of historical accuracy. I loved listening to a great story and learning at the same time!

The descriptions of the scenery are beautiful, giving the reader the feeling of being right there at the heart of the story! The book could easily be read as a stand-alone but I’d advise listening to or reading the first book before this one, simply because it’s packed full of awesomeness! Plus the back story is thrilling and handy to know when reading the sequel.

The characters are wholesome and I was emotionally invested throughout, the story was compelling and the beautiful descriptions of seventeen century north east England were absolutely amazing! The world was so much different back then and not in a good way!

Highly addictive and highly recommended!

I was gifted a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review by Love Books Tours, views and opinions are my own and have not been influenced by anyone.

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  • LozzyJ
  • 11-10-21

Excellent Historical fiction

Based on the Newcastle witch trials which saw 16 witches hung on a single day, Sunwise kicks off where Widdershins left us...on a pretty big "What???" moment!

This book is equally as brilliant as Widdershins, both narrated by the wonderful Christine Mackie. Throughout the book I was rooting for Jane and Tom and the future they so desperately want!

Helen's characters are excellently written; I absolutely hated John (so much that he made me cringe), and increasingly took a dislike to other characters as more of the story is revealed.

This audiobook was so gripping and immersive that by the end I was incredibly invested in it, so much that I felt emotional at the end.

Fabulous for historical fiction fans or those wanting to try it. I would definitely recommend Sunwise and it's prequel Widdershins.

⚠️Content Warning⚠️
This book contains very graphic descriptions of abuse, some of which is aimed at children/infants.

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  • NicolaHancock
  • 11-10-21

Loved This

Firstly the narrator done an incredible job with this. The different accents were amazing.

The plot of the story was gripping with two stories initially being told from two different character perspectives, John and Jane. John a witch hunter. Jane a woman who works in midwifery. Eventually the two stories become one and you embark on the journey of how these two stories unite.

For an audio this was extremely easy to follow. I loved the accusations to who was witches and trying to figure it all out. My favourite characters were Tom and Jane and their whole story was gripping. I felt so sorry for them and so much sadness. I didn’t like driver at all and thought he was wicked and evil. I couldn’t figure out how I felt about John though which played on my mind.

I really struggled listening to the ending of this book it was graphic making me feel upset and sick to my stomach. Although the whole story was absolutely brilliant and pieced together perfectly I didn’t expect it to end the way it did.

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  • Georgina C.
  • 11-09-21

Historical Fiction At It’s Best

Thank you to @lovebookstours for my copy of this audiobook.

I loved this as much as the first one, what a sequel! Fans of historical fiction will love this book, such a great series. I absolutely loved the narrator too, she made it been better for me.

I love Jane, such a courageous woman who put up with so much, and I hated John - complete madman who deserves all that befell him.

It’s difficult to review this without giving things away so I urge you to just read it.

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  • bookishcharli
  • 11-09-21

Fantastic sequel!

Sunwise picks up where Widdershins leaves off, and although you could probably read Sunwise without having read the first book I would recommend reading them both as there are references to the first book dotted throughout this one.

Much like Widdershins, we follow Jane and Mr Creepy witch hunter John as they narrate alternating chapters. Jane is now married and raising her daughter, and Mr Creepy is still being, well, creepy and awful but thankfully the actions of his abuse and sexual misconducts catch up to him in this book and I couldn’t have been more happier to finally listen to the consequences of his perverted actions. I was happy to see more of Jane and despite the unhappy situation she’s in, she still practices midwifery and healing to those who need it. I won’t go into much more detail as I don’t want to spoil Sunwise, or Widdershins, for anyone but you should all check out this book. It was just as amazing as the first one, and you can tell while reading through the alternating chapters it’s playing out like angel vs demon, good vs bad, and it really does stick in your mind.

Once again the narrator (Christine Mackie) has done such a fabulous job with bringing this book and it’s characters to life, I want her to narrate any historical fictions books I listen to in the future! If you’re a fan of historical fiction then you definitely want to pick up this book (and the first one if you haven’t already!).

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  • Natalie H
  • 11-08-21

A well written sequel to Widdershins

Sunwise is the sequel to Widdershins by Helen Steadman and picks up exactly where Widdershins ended.
I could listen to these books for hours at a time they are so captivating!
In Sunwise we continue to follow Jane and John. The two POVs are very distinguishable by the narrators excellent voices for both characters.
John is found out from his fraudulent witch finding ways in book 1 and manages to escape capture. But, he comes back into Jane's life with revenge at the forefront of his mind.
Poor Jane has a real shock when her beloved Tom returns from the Navy after being thought drowned but this isn't her only woe, as John is back on the hunt and all women are in danger of being hunted down as witches.
John is a despicable person who made my skin crawl and my stomach turn on a number of occasions, but this is such fine writing by the author to make me despise him so much.
I desperately wanted Jane to get her happy ever after, but you'll have to read it yourself to find out if she does!
Set I England in the 1600s, this book is so detailed in setting and descriptive language used and I felt I was there at times when listening to these amazing books!