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The Witch Hunters

By Steve Lyons

Book review by Paul Scoones

Steve Lyons's past novels have typically featured humour on some level (the sole exception perhaps being Killing Ground). The Witch Hunters is however written with such a sobering style, attention to detail and accuracy of research that I kept needing to remind myself of the identity of the author. It is a book indisputably worthy of the late David Whitaker or John Lucarotti.

Lyons has apparently effortlessly slipped back into the very early days of the series, where Ian and Barbara are still suspicious of the Doctor's motives, the TARDIS is consistently referred to as ‘The Ship’, Susan is prone to bouts of hysteria and the Doctor makes ill-conceived decisions which place his companions in peril.

Perhaps most ill-conceived of all is allowing his friends to live in Salem Village for a while in the full knowledge of what will shortly occur there. The time travellers soon arouse suspicion in the deeply religious villagers and ultimately lead to accusations of witchcraft, and its tragic consequences.

To really appreciate this book I suspect you need to have at least a passing familiarity with the Salem witch trials. Fortunately, Arthur Miller's play The Crucible is usually required school reading, and failing that, there's the recent Daniel Day Lewis and Winona Ryder cinema version. Lyons thoughtfully provides a bibliography for those who desire even more background reading. If you enjoy the grim historical reality of stories like The Aztecs or The Crusade then The Witch Hunters is for you. [4/5]

This item appeared in TSV 55 (October 1998).

Index nodes: The Witch Hunters