Healing Fiction: Drawing on the past as we move to the future
A Sure Cure for Witchcraft
A Sure Cure for Witchcraft, Laura Best’s sixth novel, takes place in Württemberg, now Germany, in 1752, and in New Germany, Nova Scotia in 2019. It is a well-researched work of historical fiction that will resonate today because of its focus on the power of healing.
It began with an allure of the past. “I have always been fascinated by the belief people had in witchcraft,” says Best. “I often wondered about the people who held these beliefs and, especially, about the women who were suspected of practicing witchcraft. Who were they, really?”
Best’s strong female characters show courage and resilience, standing up for what they believe in, helping others, easing illnesses and aiding childbirth using plants and herbs, despite the risk of being labelled as witches.
The book begins with a quote from Hildegard Von Bingen, a revered mystic and healer from the 12thcentury: “Even in a world that is being shipwrecked, remain brave and strong.”
“I loved the quote and knew immediately I wanted to use it,” says Best.“It is still relevant after all these centuries.” Von Bingen was also a poet, composer, philosopher, nun and fierce woman from Germany—a perfect fit with her story.
Although Best began writing this story in 2009, and it’s taken the book more than 10 years to reach readers, the timing is perfect. What better time to have a story about healing than now?
After a challenging 18 months, a story that speaks of worrying less and placing value on nature and positivity is welcome and necessary.
Editor Penelope Jackson, who worked on A Sure Cure for Witchcraft, agrees. “Novels can aid healing the same ways all stories can—they can give us a happy diversion, they can meet us in our pain so we’re less lonely, and they can show a way through whatever difficulties we are facing.
“Specifically, historical fiction can help present-day healing because it reminds us of the crises and horrors people have already survived, individually and globally,” continues Jackson. “Every age has had struggles, often ones that felt just as apocalyptic as our time does, and to read about past struggles can give us hope: hope of overcoming, hope of transforming. Hope that even if nothing changes, we will find a way to continue. And hope—not blithe optimism, but hope, with its sleeves rolled up—is essential to healing.”
“One thing that is prevalent in the book is the power and strength we all possess. While some things may be out of our control, there is much we still have control over,” says Best, speaking of her characters and of present day. “You don’t appreciate the mountain until you’ve spent time in the valley. It’s not the number of times that we find ourselves down that matters so much as the times we are able to lift ourselves up.”
“As you take this journey with Lilli and Alisz, my hope is that you will not only come to believe in the enduring power of friendship, but also discover the power of your own inner wisdom,” says Best. Who could ask for more?