Ashes and Stones: a Scottish journey in search of witches & witness will be published by Sceptre, an imprint of Hodder & Stoughton, in January 2023.
Ashes and Stones is a moving and personal journey, along rugged coasts and through remote villages and modern cities, in search of the traces of those accused of witchcraft in seventeenth-century Scotland.
Allyson Shaw untangles the myth of witchcraft and gives voice to those erased by it. Her elegant and lucid prose weaves threads of history and feminist reclamation, alongside beautiful travel, nature and memoir writing, to create a vibrant memorial. This is the untold story of the witches’ monuments of Scotland and the women’s lives they mark. Ashes and Stones is a trove of folklore linking the lives of modern women to the horrors of the past, and it is record of resilience and a call to choose and remember our ancestors.
‘I longed for an authentic glimpse of the women executed for witchcraft hundreds of years ago, and I went out into the landscape to meet them. Their voices and lives became braided with my own in moving and unexpected ways. I’m excited that Sceptre will bring this humanising perspective on the accused to a wider audience.’–Allyson Shaw
Charlotte Humphery, Senior Commissioning Editor at Sceptre, says: ‘Ashes and Stones is a beautiful exploration of a dark history that is often forgotten or trivialised. Thousands of women were murdered by state forces during the witch hunts and Allyson Shaw revives some of these women – through historical records, physical presence and informed imagination – with tenderness and compassion. In this book, she has created her own memorial that is rich with magic of folk lore and the power of the Scottish landscape and resonant with the politics of today. We are delighted to be publishing this brilliant and important book.’
Allyson Shaw has worked as a professional writer for the last thirty years. Her work has appeared in many literary journals and anthologies over the last three decades, including the Everyman’s Library Pocket Poetry Anthology, Monster Verse. Her writing on the Scottish witch trials has appeared in Cunning Folk, Rituals and Declarations, and A Beautiful Resistance. And her short fiction has appeared in Fiddler’s Green, Fireside Quarterly and Luna Station Quarterly, among others. She lives in Banff on the northeast coast of Scotland.
She is represented by Kevin Pocklington at The North Literary Agency.
Praise for Shaw’s poetry:
“Here Narrative–if elsewhere in disgrace,
dares lift her skirts–she’s armed with talons–
and show her face.
What’s this she hurls with both her fists?
Bonbons from the burning moon
to poison our parents–
not a moment too soon.”
“Allyson Shaw’s poetry wrestles fearlessly with strong angels, and invokes the aid of some great provocateurs – William Blake and Sylvia Plath among them. The drama is terrific here: Shaw has a righteous quarrel with the order of things, and at the same time her language displays a tender, eloquent love of this world. Passion and pattern strike a rare accord in these poems.”
– Judith Grossman, author of How Aliens Think
“Allyson Shaw renders female experience with the dark wit of Anne Sexton– mixed with the sensual surprise and elegiac glee of Emily Dickinson.” — Jill Hoffman, author of Mink Coat.
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