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The Last Witchfinder, by James Morrow

Reviewed by Majanka

In the spring of 1688, Walter Stearne, Witchfinder General for Mercia and East Anglia, roams the countryside in search of heretics, delivering the English nation from Satan’s hordes. His daughter Jennet is left behind in the care of her Aunt Isobel, who schools her in the New Philosophy, expounded by Isaac Newton. But Isobel’s style of scientific enquiry soon attracts the attention of the witchfinders. Desperate to save her aunt, Jennet travels to Cambridge and seeks the aid of Newton himself. Joining the expedition is Dr. Barnaby Cavendish and his ‘Museum of Wondrous Prodigies’, including the Bird-Child of Bath, the Lyme Bay Fish Boy and the Sussex Rat Baby. The mission of this strange fellowship comes to naught, but in Isobel’s dying moments, Jennet determines to devote her life to overturning the Parliamentary Witchcraft Act. Our heroine’s quest entails many picaresque adventures, including a brush with the famous Salem Witch Trials; captivity by Algonquin Indians; erotic nights wtih Benjamin Franklin; a shipwreck in the Caribbean Sea; a perilous enconter with pirates and a great final showdown between old superstition and new science. The Last Witchfinder is narrated by another book, namely Sir Isaac Newton’s Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy, which is engaged in an eternal struggle with the most notorious of the Renaissance witch-hunting manuals – a battle fought with squadrons of paper-eating moths and regiments of booklice.

Read the original article at: Eternalised

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