The King's Witches

A Bewitching Historical Novel from the Women's Prize Longlisted Author of The Maiden

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Pub Date 6 Jun 2024 | Archive Date 6 Jun 2024

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'A masterpiece . . . I literally didn't look up from the first page to the last' — Janice Hallett, bestselling author of The Appeal

'Enthralling, compelling and at times chilling . . . An utterly timely tale' — D. V. Bishop, award-winning author of Ritual of Fire

The King’s Witches by Kate Foster is a gripping and beautiful historical novel that gives an unforgettable voice to the women at the heart of the real-life witch trials in sixteenth-century Scotland.

Women whisper secrets to each other; it is how we survive.

1589. Princess Anna of Denmark is betrothed to King James VI of Scotland. Before they can wed, Anna must pass the trial period: one year of marriage to prove herself worthy of being Scotland's new Queen. Determined to fulfil her duties to King and country, Anna resolves to be the perfect royal bride. Until she meets Lord Henry . . .

By her side is Kirsten Sorenson, her loyal and pious lady-in-waiting. But, whilst tending to Anna's every need, Kirsten has her own secret motives for the royal marriage to succeed . . .

Meanwhile, in North Berwick, young housemaid Jura practises the healing charms taught to her by her mother. When she realises she is no longer safe, she escapes to Edinburgh, only to find herself caught up in the witchcraft mania that has gripped not just the capital, but the new queen . . .

Will Anna, Kirsten and Jura be able to save each other and, in doing so, save themselves?

*The Maiden was longlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction on 05/03/2024

'A masterpiece . . . I literally didn't look up from the first page to the last' — Janice Hallett, bestselling author of The Appeal

'Enthralling, compelling and at times chilling . . . An utterly...

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Average rating from 31 members

Featured Reviews

Absolute favourite. Cannot wait to recommend this to customers. Hits you right were it should, and succeeds expectations.

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I found this outstanding. From the setting and atmosphere which were vivid but realistic to the characters, the emotions and the intrigue, this book had it all!
Having loved this authors previous book I was very excited to receive this arc and it did not let me down. This is even better than her previous book and I read it in two sittings as it was hard to put down
This is based on some very interesting characters and time periods in history with the Scottish witchcraft trials of which I’m very familiar and the author did a great job bringing the characters and settings to life

A new favourite author!

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this arc

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This book is based on the story of the Scottish Witch Trails in the 16th century. The book is quite upsetting in places, and goes into detail about what happened to the witches. It focuses on three women and is a really interesting story to read. It flows really well between the initially unconnected characters. A very good historical novel. Thank you to Net Galley for an advanced copy of the book

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This is a super interesting story and anyone who likes all the witchy stuff should go and read this one! The characters are great and the atmosphere super special. The book really drags you in and wants you to read it in one sitting.

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A truly beautiful, shocking and gripping retelling of this historical story based around the North Berwick witch trials of 1590. It was interesting to read the perspective of the three main characters and how their stories became entwined with each other. Jura my heart melted for you and all the other woman in reality at that time who, were persecuted, tortured and burned for being different. The author really captured the period of time and powerfully played on my emotions that made it a compelling and extremely interesting read , right to the last page, that left me wanting to know more…

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Another haunting and captivating novel from Kate Foster, based on true historical events - the North Berwick witch trials and King James VI of Scotland involvement.
I loved this author’s previous book The Maiden, and was thrilled to receive her latest book to review. From the first paragraph, I was enthralled and engaged with the setting, the characters and the retelling of this historical event with fictional characters and events complementing this book. I loved it, couldn’t stop reading it and wholeheartedly recommend readers reserve a copy of the hardback on publication day as the cover is beautiful too! Thank you to NetGalley, the author and the publisher for the opportunity to read and review.

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Kate Foster is a new historical fiction author to me, but I have already ordered her previous novel, The Maiden. This was a fascinating, detailed account based on the North Berwick witch trials of which I previously knew nothing. Like the best historical novelists this story is based on true fact and this author really brought this episode of history to life. The injustices served upon women in this era who nowadays would be called herbalists or doctors (!) are perfectly depicted here. I was gripped from the first page and raced through this. Congratulations to Ms Foster on both and excellent novel and for bringing this important example of Scottish history to our attention. I will be looking out for this author’s future novels.

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I thought Kate’s first book The Maiden was one of the best feminist historical fiction books I have read. But she has outdone herself with this new one.
Set in 1589, and again based on a historical fact, The King’s Witches follows the story of the young Princess Anna of Denmark who is about to marry the older King James VI of Scotland (later to become James I of England). It was a time of witchcraft mania and fear with countless witch trials and burnings. Anna’s lady in waiting is determined the marriage will go ahead so she can escape to Scotland for her own secretive reasons.
A thoroughly engrossing story which I highly recommend for lovers of historical fiction.

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I don’t often read historical fiction and after this masterpiece for Kate Foster I wonder why not! This book had me hooked and as per usual I devoured it in 24 hours.

This book has multiple points of views from strong female characters showing the prejudice women faced in Europe at this time. However, as heavy as that topic is this book was easy to read and digest and the interwoven stories were perfect. It did make me chuckle what was seen as witchcraft and the troubles these women faced.

Being from Newcastle I found the Scottish sections with their dialect so easy to read but I am interested to see how others found that as I could sound this in my head easily.

This is now a go to author for me and I need to get The Maiden and read this as the concept of that book sounds great. I recommend getting this book when it comes out in June!

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The story follows the relationships of 3 key women...

Princess Anna of Denmark - handfasted to King James V of Scotland.... but in love with one of his courtiers Henry

Kristen - Princess Anna's ladies maid

Jura Craig - a young scottish girl accused of being a witch.

King James is obsessed with witches and is convinced with his cousin they are trying to remove the scottish throne from him.
The torture of those accused was very graphic and quite horrifying to what they went through.

A good read, with some twists and turns.

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A beautifully written novel telling the story of the North Berwick witch trials that took place in Scotland in the 17th century. The novel is told from the point of view of three women. The first is Anna, Princess of Denmark, who at the start is handfasted to James VI of Scotland. She will travel to Scotland and there spend a year on a trial period to ensure she is a good match before the marriage takes place. Travelling with her is Kirsten Sorenson, her lady’s maid, a pious woman with a history of her own in Scotland and a desire to return. Finally there is Jura, a young woman who has recently lost her mother and left her drunken father’s home to find work as a housemaid. She has inherited her mother’s skills as a healer but these are dangerous times as the craze over feared witchcraft spreads from Germany and Scandinavia to Scotland. Their paths will eventually cross as the trials and burnings begin to haunt Edinburgh.

I loved this book. I always enjoy stories about women that are centred very much on the women themselves and most prominently on their relationships with each other. The lack of agency of their own lives is clear (although there are very obvious limits on the men in the story too, whether by rank, society or religion) and the terrible fear of how fragile their lives are is well told. The threat of accusations of witchcraft (between 4000 and 6000 people were prosecuted in Scotland over the period, 4 times the European average and 75% of them women) hang over everything and the dangers of being close to James himself, so convinced of their existence, are evident. It’s a fascinating period of history and the author does a fantastic job of bringing it to life. A really interesting and thought provoking novel, highly recommended.

Thanks to Netgalley and Pan Macmillan for the advance copy in return for an honest review.

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Thank you to NetGalley and PanMacillan publishing for an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

This book is set in 1589. It is a turbulent time at home and abroad, as witchcraft is on the rise and King James is convinced they are all conspiring to uproot him from his throne.

It is a beautifully written, somewhat haunting book based on true historical events, which follows the story of three very different women, living very different lives in a time when it was dangerous to be a woman. During 16th century North Berwick witch trials .

Princess Anne of Denmark is betrothed to King James VI of Scotland – a royal union designed to forever unite the two countries. But first, she must pass the trial period: one year of marriage in which she must prove herself worthy of being Scotland's new Queen. If the King and the Scottish royal court in Edinburgh find her wanting, she faces permanent exile to a convent. Determined to fulfil her duties to King and country, Anne resolves to be the perfect royal bride. Beside her is her servant and loyal maid Kirsten Sorenson who has travelled to Scotland with her from Denmark,. And Jura a young healer taught to her by her mother in the ways of old who is herself accused of witchcraft.

This book will appeal to all fans of historical fiction and witch trials in general. The description of some of the happening to these poor women who were persecuted due to a lot of the time peoples naivety and superstition is almost barbaric in places so some sensitive readers might find it difficult to read.

Having been to Edinburgh, Scotland and North Berwick I really enjoyed the scene setting and different locations in the book as I could see myself transported back to the 16th century and how different things would have been and looked at that time.

A really enjoyable book and I will definitely look out for the authors other works in the future.

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This is a harrowing story of the north Berwick witch trials.
It is so well written you can imagine yourself living at this horrendous time in human history.
I don’t think the misogyny of the time has changed all that much. Especially in some countries where women are still
accused of being witches and have no control of their own destiny.
Well worth reading.

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I was very keen to read The King's Witches by Kate Foster. I had read her earlier book The White Maiden, which was such an engaging and fascinating read.

The King’s Witches is set in 1589 and unfolds from the perspective of three women: Princess Anna of Denmark; Kirsten Sorenson; and Jura.

Princess Anna has been betrothed to King James VI of Scotland and must travel to Scotland with members of the Danish Royal Court including her Lady-In-Waiting, Kirsten Sorenson. Before they depart, they witness a witch being burned on the beach. Both women are appalled by the burning, and Princess Anna is convinced that the witch has cursed her.

On their sea voyage to Scotland the ship carrying Anna and Kirsten is severely damaged in a storm and only just manages to limp to Norway for repairs.

King James VI travels to Norway and brings back his betrothed to Scotland. Whilst in Norway, King James becomes fascinated by the tales of witchcraft and the trials and burnings in Europe and becomes determined that Scotland rids itself of witches.

1589 is a very dangerous time to be a woman for sure. Kirsten is older and wiser and advises Princess Anna on how to act in order to protect herself from being labelled a witch in the royal court. Jura’s story unfolds showing the hysteria and fear held by common Scottish folk. All three women in the book are really compelling and all have their journey and the book becomes unputdownable as their stories entwine.

The historical notes at the end of the book are a must-read and are fascinating and put into context the witch trials in Scotland at that time.

Huge thanks to NetGalley and the publishers, Pan Macmillan, for making the e-ARC available to me to read in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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The King's Witches by Kate Foster

Publication 6th June 2024

An historical based fiction novel set during the sixteenth-century persecution of women during the witch trails.

We follow three women during this book, Princess Anna of Denmark who is to be married to King James VI of Scotland. Kirsten Sorenson the princess's lady-in-waiting, a woman with secrets and a motive to make sure the royal marriage works. And Jura, a housemaid in North Berwick Scotland, who practices healing and charms taught by her mother. Jura finds herself caught in the middle of the witchcraft frenzy that is starting to grip the nation.

I love an historical novel based on the witch trails, and have read quite a few and this book did not disappoint at all, I couldn't put it down. Each woman has their own voice and story which is told with such detail and care.
This a totally enthralling retelling of an historical story based around the North Berwick witchtrails of 1590. Brutal and shocking in places but accurate details of what happened to women who were deemed to be witches. Women who today we call herbalist, healers and even medical practitioners!

This was my first time reading a Kate Foster book but it definitely won't be my last.

Many thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for the opportunity to read and review this wonderful book.

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1589- a royal union between James V1 of Scotland & Princess Anna of Denmark.Anna is betrothed to the King & must prove herself worthy of being a Queen.
A fictional story based on fact which takes place during the North Berwick Witch Trials.
We follow three main female characters Anna, her ladies made Kristen & a young girl, Jura who is accused of being a witch.
We follow life in the Scottish Royal household & the horrors of the witch trials.
The author has created a compelling fascinating & engaging book, where the story intwines perfectly and has included some interesting historical notes, at the end of the book.
Thankyou to NetGalley for my advanced copy in n return for an honest review.

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