“Bolton raises the bar with each new book.” MICK HERRON
Florence Lovelady’s career was made when she convicted coffin-maker, Larry Glassbrook, of a series of child murders 30 years ago. Like something from our worst nightmares, the victims were buried…ALIVE.
“And then she discovered something even more terrifying than that she was trapped in a coffin. She wasn’t alone.”
Larry confessed to the crimes; it was an open and shut case. But now he’s dead and events from the past start to repeat themselves. Did she get it wrong all those years ago? Or is there something much darker at play?
“Buy it. Read it. Tell your friends. (Then sleep with the light on)” SARAH PINBOROUGH
On a spring day in 1612, a mill owner called Richard Baldwin, in the Pendle Forest of Lancashire chased two local women off his land, calling them ‘witches and whores,’ threatening to ‘burn the one and hang the other,’ and, in doing so, set in motion events that led to the imprisonment, trial and execution of nine women on the charge of murder by witchcraft: the infamous Pendle Witch Trials.
Legend has it that female children born in the shadow of Pendle Hill are baptised twice. First, in church, as is customary. And then again, in a dark pool at the foot of the hill, where they are pledged to the service of another master entirely. These girls spend their lives coming to terms with their unusual heritage, because to be a woman of Pendle is both a blessing and a curse.
As far as I know, I have only been baptized once, but I am a woman of Pendle. The women who were hanged for witchcraft in 1612 could have been my great, great aunts or my ancestral grandmothers. And from my earliest days I’ve known that, had I been born in such a time of misogyny and superstition, I might well have been marked out a witch.
Because I have always been different – the slightly weird girl at the back of the class, who didn’t fly with the wind, or follow the beaten path – so, I have always been intrigued by what makes some women into witches.
The north of England, my homeland, is a dark place. It is the place where, for hundreds of years, dissidents have fled and outlaws have thrived. Shortly before I was born, Ian Brady and Myra Hindley preyed upon the children of the north. As a young woman, my freedom was severely curtailed by the reign of the Yorkshire Ripper. Mary Ann Cotton, Harold Shipman, Peter Dinsdale, Donald Neilson, were all killers of the north. I am often asked why I write the sort of books I do. Maybe that’s why.
But there is one book that I have always wanted to write. The book about me, and women like me. Women of the north, who stand out from the crowd, and who are punished by that same crowd for daring to be different. I have always wanted to write a book about witches. Specifically, how women become witches. Do they make that choice themselves, or is it made for them? I used to think the latter, that it is societies that create witches. Now, after several years of research, I’m not so sure. I no longer dismiss the idea of witchcraft. Now, I think we all have powers within us. And some of us have learned to use them.
The Craftsman is the story of women, and witches. Of the children we love and must protect. And of the men who fear us.
Press and Peer Quotes
“Bolton is at her best….well crafted, blood chilling entertainment.” THE GUARDIAN.
“..characteristically gripping.” THE SUNDAY EXPRESS
“The Craftsman is a brilliant blend of rich crime thriller with a hint of the gothic. Dark, disturbing and with women who totally rock, with The Craftsman Sharon Bolton has proven herself to be a master Craftsman herself. Buy it. Read it. Tell your friends. Then sleep with the light on. SARAH PINBOROUGH
“Bolton balances the knife-edge between reality and extraordinary with a beautiful subtlety” LoveReading.
“Sharon is a master of her craft. The Craftsman is an absolutely terrific crime novel that takes your darkest fear and makes it reality.” ELLY GRIFFITHS
“Sharon Bolton’s army of fans will be storming the bookshops for this one.” BELINDA BAUER
“The Craftsman is one of those rare books that hooked me on page one, and didn’t let go until the final sentence. Engaging, compulsive reading. Sharon Bolton at her best.” RACHEL ABBOTT
“Darkly Gothic and brilliantly original, The Craftsman will have you spellbound.” JP DELANEY
“Grisly and compelling. I was so pleased to hear it’s the start of a new series as it’s top notch.” SARAH HILARY
“Filled with intrigue and suspense. The Craftsman is spellbinding.” CLARE MACKINTOSH
“Utterly terrifying and gripping.” SABINE DURRANT
“Just finished The Craftsman and it is Sharon Bolton at her absolute finest. Beautifully dark and disturbing, I won’t sleep well tonight.” JENNY BLACKHURST
“Sharon Bolton raises the bar with each new book. The Craftsman goes to some very dark places, and will have readers looking nervously over their shoulders with every page they turn.” MICK HERRON
“Pitch perfect creepiness, air punching female empowerment and sinister mysteries kept me hooked to the very last page.” HOLLY SEDDON
“A masterclass in the craft of writing. Fabulous, utterly unique storyline.” HELEN FIELDS
“Sharon Bolton is an absolute master…The Craftsman is an original, dark and twisted tale and the words just sparkle on the page.” NIKI MACKAY
So, who thought…
It’s always great when a book club picks one of my novels, even if some of the questions they throw at me can be a bit challenging. If your group is thinking of reading The Craftsman, here are a few discussion points to get you started:
- Do you think Florence ever, truly, believed in Larry’s guilt?
- Why do you think a university-educated, middle-class, young woman in the 1960s chose to become a police officer? Are there any clues in the book?
- If you are a woman of “a certain age,” have you experienced any of the misogyny that Florence has to contend with in 1960s Lancashire? Are conditions in the workplace better now? Do you agree with Florence that some of the worst sexism comes from other women?
- Superintendent Rushton is protective and nurturing of Florence. Is his attitude as sexist as some of the other officers’ open hostility?
- Do you blame Florence for entering into a relationship with Tom, a married man?
- ‘You’ve become the witch, my dear?’ Why do you think Daphne says this to Florence, the morning after she has been suspended from work? Do you think women decide for themselves to become witches, or does society determine who the witches will be?
- The witch-hunts of the 17thcentury were notable for their persecution of the vulnerable. To what extent does this appear as a theme in The Craftsman? Who are the vulnerable in Sabden?
- When Ben disappears, Florence has to choose whether she will act as a police officer, or as a witch. Which do you believe she is?
- The Florence of 1999 can see and talk to dead people. Is this real, or in her head? Is Florence insane?
- Do you believe in witchcraft and magic? Do you think the author does?
- Being buried alive is reportedly one of our biggest fears. What are you most afraid of?
- Daphne tells Florence about the three disciplines of witchcraft: healing, divination and magic, along with her theory that each witch is drawn especially to one of the three. Which witch would you be?
I’m always pleased to hear from bookclubs and will try my hardest to answer questions. Contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org