A Novel of Loyalty, Deception, and Superstition

Clara Dahl, an educated and upstanding minister's daughter, returns to her childhood home in Norway after several years abroad. She’s excited to reconnect with her lifelong friend, Bess and to spend some time becoming reacquainted with the townsfolks. But before long, Clara realizes her sleepy, little, picturesque corner of the world has been invaded by evil.

The year is 1660, a time in history when women—especially poor women—were tried and executed for witchcraft. When an English witch-hunter arrives in Clara’s seaside village home, she watches in horror as the townsfolk not only welcome him but begin to work with him. As neighbor turns against neighbor, Clara finds herself drawn into the fray, forced to do what she can to protect her friends and others she cares about.

Clara struggles against the witch-hunter’s influence, speaking out against his unjust treatment of those accused of witch-craft as he plays on other peoples’ superstitious and religious beliefs. She is appalled by the townsfolks’ behavior, and aside from a handful of close friends, she feels she has no one she can trust. But when Clara’s best friend Bess is accused of being a witch, Clara must find others to join her quest to save not only her friend but the entire town…before it’s too late.

Reviews for Catching a Witch

"When Clara Dahl returns to the small Norwegian coastal town she grew up in, she takes great pleasure in being reunited with old friends and reacquainting herself with town life. The daughter of a minister, she has had an unusual life for a 17th-century woman. She is well-educated and well-traveled. The happiness of her return to her seaside home sours with the arrival in the town of Angus Hill. Hill is an Englishman, said to be an apprentice of Matthew Hopkins, known as the Witch-finder General, a man responsible for the death of numerous Englishwomen during the 1640s. Hill, like his mentor, is determined to find and root out witchcraft in all its forms.

The novel begins a little slowly, but the arrival of Hill signals a welcome shift in pace. Two innocent women are ‘tested’ as witches and quickly die in the process. Clara’s close friend Bess, a midwife and healer, inevitably attracts Angus Hill’s interest. To save her, Clara and her friends must battle against time and a community seemingly sucked in by Hill’s rhetoric. A welcome sub-plot with two mean-spirited twin daughters of an important local family keeps the action flowing, and the threatening presence of the town’s reclusive gravedigger adds another interesting character to the story.

This is an enjoyable read, strong on its portrayal of witch-hunting and sympathetic and interesting in its consideration of women’s lives in the period, particularly with the tensions between medicine and healing, religion and superstition, and men and women’s lives and education."
–The Historical Novel Society