The Crimson Ribbon


Sometimes death comes like an arrow, sudden and swift, an unforeseen shot from an unheeded bow


England, 1646, the country is in the throes of a civil war, Oliver Cromwell leads an army of people against the ‘tyrannical’ King Charles I and witches are being hunted down. A young woman, Ruth Flowers, is on the run. After her mother, a healer, is dragged off to the gallows, Ruth must find a safe place. With a letter of introduction to the Poole family and an expected travelling companion in the form of Joseph Oakes, an ex-soldier who has deserted his regiment, she heads to London. As she had hoped, with her letter of introduction, she finds work as a servant in the Poole household consisting of Master Poole and his daughter, Elizabeth. A real life historical character, Elizabeth was an individual who claimed to have visions and who argued for the life of Charles I to be spared. Alongside the fictional storyline, Katherine Clements interweaves the factual events of Elizabeth and the trial of Charles I. Clements incorporates several themes into her novel: Joseph’s love for Ruth, Ruth’s unconventional love for Elizabeth. She explores religion, politics and fear – namely the fear of being labelled a witch – to drive her plot.  Although history has shown us the fate of Cromwell and the English Civil War, Clements’ novel is full of twists and turns, and this unpredictability ensures we have become invested in Ruth and her story.