IT’S THE 4TH OF DECEMBER 1591.
On this, the last night of her life, in a prison cell several floors below Edinburgh’s High Street, convicted witch Geillis Duncan receives a mysterious visitor – Iris, who says she comes from a future where women are still persecuted for who they are and what they believe.
As the hours pass and dawn approaches, Geillis recounts the circumstances of her arrest, brutal torture, confession and trial, while Iris offers support, solace – and the tantalising prospect of escape.
I have previously read two books by Jenni Fagan- I really enjoyed Luckenbooth but I didn’t overly enjoy The Panopticon. So I wasn’t too sure whether I was going to enjoy this or not. I had received so many recommendations from friends so I was excited but also apprehensive. Well, this book goes into the pile of ‘books I really enjoyed’, I may go as far as to say that I loved this. I think I did.
This was such a short book. A teeny, tiny novella of around 100 pages but it still packed such a punch! I was almost overwhelmed by emotions. I sobbed pretty constantly for the last 20 pages or so.
I really enjoyed the characters of Geillis and Iris. I feel like I really got to know Geillis, she was a young woman who helped people. She made the mistake of drawing attention from the wrong person and then found herself convicted of witchcraft and sentenced to death. She was such an endearing character and I just found myself really warming towards her. She was such a sympathetic yet strong character. Iris was a modern woman but another tragic soul. I would have enjoyed getting to know her a little bit more but there is a limit to what can fit in a wee novella.
I really enjoyed the mystical elements of this book. I enjoyed the magic and the use of magic in this story.
I loved the way that the two women bonded in such a short amount of time. I loved their relationship and the way that they brought each other comfort in a time of great need.
Despite knowing that this book was set the night before Geillis was to be put to death, I just found the ending to just break my heart. I am always seeking a happy ending and I suppose I hoped for one from this book despite being aware enough of the last to know that I was maybe setting myself up for disappointment.
I found the descriptions of the torture that Geillis suffered to be really upsetting to read. This book was so well researched and the factual elements just made me so angry that they ever happened.
I just through that this was such an emotional book. It showed that while separated by centuries, the women faced similar struggles and as a society we haven’t really moved as we perhaps like to think we have. This really made me think and feel.