A fast-paced historical thriller where a rural village is ripped apart by accusations of witchcraft.
From the author of the Not the Booker short-listed debut novel First Time Solo, comes a fast paced historical thriller. Accusations of witchcraft are sparked by the unearthing of a pagan idol in a remote Scottish village and exacerbated by generations-old social divisions.
The Reverend Burnett, the unpopular minister at Abdale, lives with his sixteen year old daughter Fiona who he treats no better than a servant. Behind the manse lies Silma Hill, crowned with a circle of ancient standing stones.
Old Sangster unearths a pagan icon in the peat beneath Silma Hill and hands it over to Burnett, who plans to write a paper on it for the Historical Antiquities Society in Edinburgh. Hours after finding the relic, Sangster is found dead. Fiona is drawn into accusations of witchcraft, fuelled by hatred of her father.
As hysteria in the village builds, will Fiona’s father be able to put aside his pride to save his daughter or will she be consumed by the fire of anger, fear and superstition that has enveloped Abdale?
Praise for Silma Hill
‘An atmospheric evocation of an earlier age we might suppose lost if it didn’t feel so lived-in. The true terror of the tale lies in what it tells us of ourselves today – as morally equivocal as ever.’ Ronald Frame, author of The Lantern Bearers and Havisham
‘An enthralling and thought-provoking tale.’ Blue Book Balloon
‘Maloney can write, and this is a page turner: we want to know if our spunky young heroine, Fiona, will burn or not, and whether she is indeed a witch.’ Scotland on Sunday
‘The story is in many respects timeless.’ Undiscovered Scotland
‘It is clear that Mr Maloney has thoroughly researched the subject and therefore it is an interesting work.’ Press and Journal
‘Think Scooby Doo crossed with the Wicker Man. Very enjoyable and quite spooky historical thriller. 4 out of 5. I thoroughly enjoyed it and as with all enjoyable books I thought about it throughout the day and looked forward to settling down with it at night.’ Jim’s Books
‘Iain Maloney will scare you witless, not with tales of “things that go bump in the night” but with the certainty of the knowledge of what people, when scared and panicking, are capable of doing to each other… This is a story worth of comparison with The Turn of the Screw.’ David Kenvyn
‘An intriguing tale with many intriguing moments and memorable characters, and an increasingly oppressive and claustrophobic atmosphere. Maloney makes a memorable contemporary addition to rural Scottish gothic, and the pacing of the text makes it suitable for a young adult as well as an adult readership – an ideal gateway novel, perhaps, to seminal earlier works like Hogg’s Confessions.’ The Gothic Imagination, University of Stirling