Posted in Book Review, Books I have read, Five Star Reads

The Craftsman – Sharon Bolton

Crime Fiction

Oh my! What a brilliant read! This has to be one of the scariest books I’ve read in a long while and yet there a few graphic scenes, what the author does is get into your mind and play with it.

Brilliantly the opening to this book is an author’s message to her readers – a lovely touch, which ends with these words:

The Craftsman is the story of women, and witches. Of the children we love and must protect. And of the men who fear us.

The Craftsman is mainly set right in 1969 when our protagonist WPC Florence Lovelady is visiting the mother of a missing girl of fifteen in the town of Sabden which lies in the shadow of Pendle Hill in the North-West of England. Florence is a strong, educated woman in what was back then, very much a man’s world. At the time we meet her as a young officer she is tagging along with the higher ranking Detective Constable Tom Devine as the superintendent thought a woman officer was a nice touch.

Now every good witch knows and consequently fears, Pendle in Lancashire which was where a number of witches were tried for witchcraft back in 1612. All admittedly a long time ago, but the history just adds to the superstitious small town community of Sabden which is coping with young people going missing gives legs to rumours and supposition. What this brilliant novel illustrates is how the charge of being a witch could all too easily be levelled against a woman, especially when a whole community feels as though nothing is going right, and what is going wrong is almost inconceivable.

I’m not revealing anything the synopsis doesn’t to say that teens were being buried alive in caskets, and nor I imagine do I have then have to explain quite how terrifying this book is. The setting of 1969, an age of comparative innocence, a fresh-faced, if far more intelligent than her superiors are prepared to admit, WPC it seems even more horrific that the murders are not only unusual, but particularly horrific.

Anyway good old Florence is determined to catch the perpetrator and thirty years later we meet her at the graveside of Larry Glassbrook a coffin maker. A man who has been imprisoned for the last thirty years. A man who Florence has visited over the years whilst she was climbing the slippery pole towards the glass ceiling. But, the case from the past is far from over and Florence is drawn back to the beginning of her career.

This novel is cleverly plotted with the parallels between the witches of the past and the present day happenings inevitably drawn, so subtlety and yet so powerful. I loved Florence and was rooting through her both in 1969 and 1999 her character clearly having developed in the intervening thirty years but her drive undiminished. Once again Sharon Bolton has created memorable and lifelike characters to populate one of the creepiest reads of the year. I strongly predict this book making it easily into the top ten reads of the year! Yes – I’m telling you all, you need to read this one, if you dare…

Sharon Bolton is so talented and as much as I loved her Lacey Flint series I have to confess I’ve loved her stand-alone novels even more, if that’s at all possible– you can take your pick from these as they are all shocking, gripping and oh so inventive.

I’d like to say a big thank you to the publishers Trapeze who allowed me to read an advance review copy of The Craftsman and to Sharon Bolton for keeping me up all night and caused my dreams in the nights since I read it to be filled with coffins and witches! This unbiased review is my thanks to them.

First Published UK: 3 May 2018
No of Pages: 432
Genre: Crime Fiction
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Other Fantastic Fiction by Sharon Bolton

Standalone Novels

Sacrifice (2008)
Awakening (2009)
Blood Harvest (2010)
Little Black Lies (2015)
Daisy In Chains (2016)
Dead Woman Walking (2017)

Lacey Flint Series

Now You See Me (2011)
If Snow Hadn’t Fallen (2012) Novella
Dead Scared (2012)
Like This Forever (2013)
A Dark and Twisted Tide (2014)
Here Be Dragons (2016) Novella


A book lover who clearly has issues as obsessed with crime despite leading a respectable life

39 thoughts on “The Craftsman – Sharon Bolton

  1. I can’t read your post – as I want to come to this book without any knowledge of it – I really will have to read it soon! So glad you’ve given it 5 stars.


  2. One of my most anticipated books of May. I love Sharon Bolton and she can do no wrong with me. I buy her books without even reading what they’re about. Haven’t read your review either (sorry 😳) but I have no doubt it’s awesome (both your review and the book) and I’ll be sure to return to read this when I’ve read The Craftsman myself. Soon! I can’t wait!


  3. I’m so glad you enjoyed this so well, Cleo. In Sharon Bolton’s capable hands, the story was bound to be quite good, of course. And it sounds so atmospheric and well-plotted. And I do like the way Bolton develops her characters. It sounds as though this is as psychologically compelling as it is anything else.


  4. Well, I definitely didn’t click in this review expecting a horror! Nothing in the name of cover would have given me that indication, so I’m pleasantly surprised! You had me at the author getting into my brain and playing with it, I’m in!


  5. I can’t wait to read this! I don’t read a lot of crime fiction but I’ve read all of Sharon Bolton’s books apart from Blood Harvest and the two novellas and loved them all. The standalones are probably my favourites too.


  6. This book sounds SO GOOD! I know FictionFan loves Bolton too, so I think you guys have finally convinced me to go ahead and track down one of her books-this one to start with I think!


      1. I’m excited to read one of her books! Unfortunately her publisher is the one major one I don’t already review for, so I may have to bit the bullet and actually go out and purchase the book when it comes out in October here in Canada 🙂


  7. I’ve heard a lot of praise for the author, Sharon Bolton, and yet, I have not read any of her books. But rest assured, after reading your review (among others this last month) I’m ordering this one to start with.


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