Grove Press
Grove Press
Grove Press

The Daylight Gate

by Jeanette Winterson

“More than a shivery treat . . . [the novel] touches on nearly every aspect of witchcraft, both historical and imaginative . . . sober, precise, and solemnly beautiful . . . utterly spellbinding.” —Washington Post

  • Imprint Grove Paperback
  • Page Count 240
  • Publication Date October 14, 2014
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-2283-4
  • Dimensions 5" x 7.25"
  • US List Price $14.00

About The Book

An instant bestseller in the UK, The Daylight Gate is Jeanette Winterson’s singular vision of a dark period of complicated morality, sex, and tragic plays for power in a time when politics and religion were closely intertwined.

On Good Friday, 1612, deep in the woods of Pendle Hill, a gathering of thirteen is interrupted by the local magistrate. Two of their coven have already been imprisoned for witchcraft and are awaiting trial, but those who remain are vouched for by the wealthy and respected Alice Nutter. Shrouded in mystery and gifted with eternally youthful beauty, Alice is established in Lancashire society and insulated by her fortune. As those accused of witchcraft retreat into darkness, Alice stands alone as a realm-crosser, a conjurer of powers that will either destroy her or set her free.

Tags Literary


“Winterson’s writing has an uncanny glow: Her pared-down, poetic prose serves as an artful yet unobtrusive foil to the quick, visceral cadence of a plot that walks a fine line between gothic horror and historical fiction, tempering the shock value of its sex and violence. From one gruesome development to the next, Winterson’s haunting imagery and narrative immediacy captivate…an engrossing story that’s sure to leave you shivering.” —Catherine Straut, Elle

“Electrifying…. a nightmarish novella that burns like a hot coal. “—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“This book is addictive, a page-turner . . . Winterson lays on the horror and the supernatural with gleeful abandon.” —LA Review of Books

“Delightfully gruesome.” —New York Times

“A daring historical novel . . . a portal in prose, through which readers enter fully into the bloody, raucous England of the early 17th century . . . Any reader who crosses over into this novel will remember vividly where he or she has traveled—through the tumultuous years when English heroines and witches appeared interchangeable, and passion erupted at the gateway between love and despair.” —Alan Cheuse, NPR

“Absorbing . . . [there is] pleasure in its intensely visual qualities.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“More than a shivery treat . . . This harrowing novel, set in early-seventeenth-century England, touches on nearly every aspect of witchcraft, both historical and imaginative. In little more than 200 pages, Jeanette Winterson depicts starving hags, gorgeous Renaissance orgies, alchemists searching for the secret of eternal life, horrific torture and even the Dark Gentleman himself. Much of the story, moreover, is true . . . The Daylight Gate proffers a series of short, sharp shocks . . . the reader . . . is gripped by the realistic horrors and brutality Winterson describes . . . Winterson neatly shifts back and forth among various ‘realities’ throughout . . . Yet she never tries to dazzle the reader, keeping her sentences sober, precise and solemnly beautiful as the novel moves along with a steady relentlessness’. utterly spellbinding.” —Michael Dirda, Washington Post

“Mixing historical detail and dark horror, the author brilliantly brews a spellbinding take on the 1612 English witch trials.” —People

“Winterson’s Lancashire, a place “alive in its black-and-green coat cropped like an animal pelt . . . is a haunting place indeed.” —Nicholas Mancusi, Miami Herald

“Exhilarating . . . More than a re-imagining of a vanished moment. It is concerned with freedom, choice, and destiny, truth to emotion and to personal experience, the nature of conviction and belief, evil and, above all, good. . . . A tour de force of horror writing . . . [Slipping] effortlessly between apparent realism and full-throttle fantasy, grotesquerie or burlesque . . . Winterson succeeds triumphantly.” —Matthew Dennison, The Times (London)

“Vigorous . . . Filled with Winterson’s characteristic intelligence and energy . . . This dark story with its fantastical trappings of magic and mysticism, its strong women and wild, Lancastrian setting is Winterson’s natural habitat and she maps it with relish.” —Jane Shiling, New Statesman

“Dazzling . . . Winterson is a deft storyteller and a writer of wonderful economy. . . . Amid the blood, mud, and violence, [it is also] intensely poetic. . . . One of the very few contemporary novels that I actually wished were longer.” —Christena Appleyard, The Literary Review

“Winterson lavishly embroiders a tale rich in . . . supernatural touches, but mainly accentuates the very real torment and degradation endured by [the] accused. . . . Winterson creates a deliciously dreadful tale that cleverly blurs the line between real and imagined horror.” —Claire Allfree, Metro (4 stars)


One of NPR’s Great Reads for 2013


The North is the dark place.

It is not safe to be buried on the north side of the church and the North Door is the way of the Dead.

The north of England is untamed. It can be subdued but it cannot be tamed. Lancashire is the wild part of the untamed.

The Forest of Pendle used to be a hunting ground, but some say that the hill is the hunter—alive in its black-and-green coat cropped like an animal pelt.

The hill itself is low and massy, flat-topped, brooding, disappeared in mists, treacherous with bogs, run through with fast-flowing streams plunging into waterfalls crashing down into unknown pools. . . .

Only a fool or one who has dark business should cross Pendle at night. . . .

This is a haunted place. The living and the dead come together on the hill.

You cannot walk here and feel you are alone.

Those who are born here are branded by Pendle. They share a common mark.

There is still a tradition, or a superstition, that a girl-child born in Pendle Forest should be twice baptized; once in church and once in a black pool at the foot of the hill. The hill will know her then. She will be its trophy and its sacrifice. She must make her peace with her birthright, whatever that means.