The Witching Tide

S. & S. Audio. Sept. 2023. 9:36 hrs. ISBN 9781797161167. $19.99. F
Meyer’s atmospheric debut takes listeners to the 1640s East Anglian village of Cleftwater, forever changed when witchfinder Silas Makepeace comes to town. Martha Hallybread, a 47-year-old servant, midwife, and healer, has long used her knowledge of botanicals to heal the villagers’ illnesses and help with pregnancies and childbirth. Having lost her voice as a child and now relying on gestures and signs to communicate, Martha has always been different. Even so, she is conscripted to the witchfinder’s cause, tasked with searching the accused women for “devil’s marks” as she and those she loves come under increasing scrutiny. Actor Miranda Raison narrates Meyer’s gripping story, capturing the oppressive atmosphere of a town weighed down by dread, suspicion, and hurt. Raison expertly gives voice to Martha, conveying her words with a befitting raspiness that sets her apart while allowing listeners glimpses of her sorrow and growing desperation. Raison’s performances of secondary characters are equally evocative, channeling the fragile haughtiness of Martha’s mistress, Agnes; the broad expansiveness of her friend Jennet Savory; and the poisonous, self-satisfied taunts of the women’s jailers.
VERDICT A heartbreaking, unputdownable audio that speaks to the power of mob rule and the incalculable harm wrought by misogyny, dogmatism, and prejudice.
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