Sunday, October 24, 2021

The Witchfinder's Apprentice (Witchfinders, Book 1) by Cora Buhlert


Release date: October 20, 2021
Subgenre: Historical Horror

About The Witchfinder's Apprentice:


Massachusetts in the Year of the Lord 1695: Matthew Goodson, eighteen years of age, is apprenticed to a team of experienced witchfinders, who travel from village to village and town to town to uncover witchcraft, examine the evidence, interrogate suspects and stamp out evil.

When a wave of mysterious illnesses and deaths hits the town of Redemption, the witchfinders are called in and quickly arrest a suspect, a teenaged girl named Grace Pankhurst.

Matthew has long been having his doubts about the witchfinders and the righteousness of their mission. The interrogation of Grace brings those doubts to a flashpoint. But is Grace truly innocent or has Matthew fallen under the spell of a comely witch?

This is a historical horror story of 5500 words or approximately 20 print pages by two-time Hugo finalist Cora Buhlert.




Autumn had painted the dense forests surrounding the town of Redemption in Massachusetts Colony a riot of fiery hues, transforming the woods into a natural cathedral as glorious as any in the Old World. But the crows flew in clouds of black across the grey sky and the fog rolled in from the sea and settled among the tree trunks, heralding the arrival of the witching season.

There were other signs as well, signs that evil was afoot in Redemption. A shipment of rye that had only just been delivered by a trader named Jeremiah Church turned black in the storehouse. Bread went mouldy in the kitchens and the milk turned sour in the can. Chickens would not lay eggs and finally fell from their perches, quite dead. Horses went lame in their stables and in the meadows, cows collapsed in lethal convulsions.

At first, the evil that had come to Redemption confined itself to animals, but then the effects spread to the human population as well. A most pious man named Elijah Gibson went mad and chopped his wife Rebecca in half with an axe, claiming that she was possessed by the Devil himself. Two young girls, Elizabeth Hammond and Mary Osborne, collapsed in church, their bodies writhing in strange convulsions. A newly-wed wife named Margaret Proctor collapsed in her kitchen while baking bread and suffered a miscarriage. An old man named Ebenezer Woodbridge slipped on a chestnut on the way to church and broke his leg. And a widow named Hester Broughton came down with a mysterious fever and a sore and swollen throat. Pus-filled lesions appeared all over her body and she passed away three days later.

The good people of Redemption knew what that meant. There was a witch living among them, a witch working her devilish craft to harm the god-fearing people of Redemption. If this witch was not found and hanged soon, then the whole town would suffer as had happened in nearby Salem two years before.

However, witches were cunning and not so easily identified. Therefore, the magistrate did what was the most prudent course of action in such situations. He asked for outside help.

And this is how the witchfinders came to Redemption on a foggy October morning to cleanse the town of evil.


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About Cora Buhlert:

Cora Buhlert was born and bred in North Germany, where she still lives today – after time spent in London, Singapore, Rotterdam and Mississippi. Cora holds an MA degree in English from the University of Bremen and is currently working towards her PhD. 

Cora has been writing, since she was a teenager, and has published stories, articles and poetry in various international magazines. She is the author of the Silencer series of pulp style thrillers, the Shattered Empire space opera series, the In Love and War science fiction romance series, the Helen Shepherd Mysteries and plenty of standalone stories in multiple genres.

When Cora is not writing, she works as a translator and teacher. She also runs the Speculative Fiction Showcase and the Indie Crime Scene and contributes to the Hugo-nominated fanzine Galactic Journey. Cora is a two-time finalist for the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer and the winner of the 2021 Space Cowboy Award.


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