Monday 25th October
A.K. Blakemore & Syd Moore in conversation
7pm // The Blue Boar
Tickets // £5
We are thrilled to present Essex Witches: A.K. Blakemore and Syd Moore in conversation!
A.K. Blakemore is an established poet and translator, with two original poetry collections to her name. Her first novel, The Manningtree Witches, won the Desmond Elliot Prize 2021 and has received much critical acclaim.
England, 1643. Parliament is battling the King; the war between the Roundheads and the Cavaliers rages. Puritanical fervour has gripped the nation, and the hot terror of damnation burns black in every shadow. In Manningtree, depleted of men since the wars began, the women are left to their own devices. At the margins of this diminished community are those who are barely tolerated by the affluent villagers - the old, the poor, the unmarried, the sharp-tongued. Rebecca West, daughter of the formidable Beldam West, fatherless and husbandless, chafes against the drudgery of her days, livened only by her infatuation with the clerk John Edes. But then newcomer Matthew Hopkins, a mysterious, pious figure dressed from head to toe in black, takes over The Thorn Inn and begins to ask questions about the women of the margins. When a child falls ill with a fever and starts to rave about covens and pacts, the questions take on a bladed edge. The Manningtree Witches plunges its readers into the fever and menace of the English witch trials, where suspicion, mistrust and betrayal ran amok as the power of men went unchecked and the integrity of women went undefended.
Syd Moore is the author of the much loved Essex Witch Museum Mysteries (Strange Magic, Strange Sight, Strange Fascination, Strange Tombs, Strange Tricks) and two previous mystery books, The Drowning Pool and Witch Hunt. Syd has worked in publishing, in television, is a charity ambassador, and currently works for an arts organisation, promoting arts and cultural events and developing literature programmes.
Rosie Strange doesn't believe in ghosts or witches. Not at all. So it's no surprise that when she inherits the ramshackle Essex Witch Museum from her grandfather Septimus, her first thought is to sell it and run. Still, the museum exerts a curious pull. There's the eccentric academic who asks for her help in tracking down the bones of Ursula Cadence, a witch long since put to death. And there's curator Sam Stone, a man whom Rosie can't decide if he's tiresomely annoying or extremely captivating. Her plans to sell the museum might be delayed, just for a while.
Soon Rosie and Sam find themselves embroiled in a centuries-old mystery, involving demonic possession, a missing skeleton, and a local witch hunt in which the evils of the past come with their own real, and very present, danger. Inspired by the real-life epidemic of witch hunts that broke out in the village of St Osyth in sixteenth-century Essex.
The event will be held in The Long Room of The Blue Boar, next door to our shop on the High Street. The Long Room is unfortunately only accessible by stairs, which we understand may be difficult for some customers. Please feel free to contact us for more information regarding this.
Parking is available at the White Horse car park, with limited car parking available at the Blue Boar, so please do arrive ahead of time if you will need to find a space.
This will be an indoor event, so we will be putting the following measures in place in order to ensure the safety of both staff and customers:
- We have ticketed this event to limit numbers, in order to allow seats to be spread out safely.
- The door will remain open throughout the evening to maintain ventilation, and we will also have an air purifier running at the back of the room.
- Staff will be wearing face masks throughout the event, and customers are encouraged to do so as well.
- Hand sanitiser will be available at the door, to be used by everyone upon entrance.
We understand that there are many who might not be comfortable with the idea of attending indoor events, and we want to make sure our customers, and attendees of any of our events, feel safe to do so. Please know that you are welcome to contact us at any time if there is anything you might be unsure of ahead of attending one of our indoor events. We will always try our hardest to make them as safe as we can, and we will be integrating them back into the day to day running of our shop at a slow place, to allow us to prepare for each one accordingly.
Tickets can be purchased from our website, or with us at the shop or over the phone.