What a fascinating and beautifully well-written first novel. It’s Germany in the year 1507, a time when pagan beliefs had not yet totally given over to Christianity. The hamlet of Tierkinddorf is experiencing a devastating famine, and all are nearly crazed with hunger and desperate to discover the “witch” who has caused the misery. Suspicion soon falls on Gude, an an elderly and sometimes confused woman who lives with her son Jost, his wife Irmeltrud and their two children, Alke and Matern. This is familiar territory, with hysteria spreading throughout the town (Arthur Miller’s The Crucible) and the arrival of the friar who carries with him a copy of Malleus Maleficarum, a guide to extracting confessions from accused witches. Nonetheless, it is riveting and will remain with you long after you read the last page. Highly recommended.