Page Turner: The Leviathan

The Leviathan by Rosie Andrews is a historic gothic novel set in 17th Century England. Thomas Treadwater is returning home to rest after fighting in the English Civil war. Looking forward to reuniting with his family and finding some peace at long last. Instead, he finds his sister, Esther, almost inconsolable with grief and fear. His father was reduced to a shell of a man and other tragedies have befallen the family home during his absence. 

Esther claims this is due to a witch, the enigmatic new servant, Chrissa Moore. Soon after the trial of Chrissa begins, but so do some strange and haunting things. Is dark magic really at play here, or something worse?

Since we read the story from Thomas’s perspective, we are just as in the dark as he is. Not knowing who to trust or what is really going on. He is sceptical compared to his god-fearing sister and hardened from his time fighting in the war. Yet he does have some compassion leading him to seek out the truth to defend the innocent. 

The Leviathan also discusses the horrors of the witch trials. While we try to forget about them, they did result in a lot of lost lives. In Scotland alone, at least 400 people, many of whom were women, were brutally tortured and then executed. This book does a great job showing the fear that folk genuinely had for witches and how important religion was to everyone regardless of social class. 

The narrative at points flashes forward to a different period, after the main events of the novel. Gifting us a few hints to what is going on, but not enough to give anything away. 

To be honest, I found the pacing to be on the slower side. It is atmospheric, but it moves so slow at least up until the halfway mark. It almost felt like it couldn’t decide if it wanted to be a horror or a historical novel as a result, it felt off. 

Overall, I did enjoy it, but I feel like it could have been better. There was a lot of potential and the ending left me feeling a bit conflicted. I would recommend it to lovers of all things gothic and dark fantasy. It isn’t the best, but still a decent read with quality twists and turns. 

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