Alice Samuel might be old and sharp-tongued, but she's no fool. Visiting her new neighbours in her Fenland village, she suspects Squire Throckmorton's household is not as God-fearing as it seems and finds the children troubled. What she cannot foresee is that all five daughters will succumb in turn to a terrifying affliction and accuse her of witchcraft - who else to blame than an ugly, black-capped woman with mysterious healing skills? The Throckmortons' maid Martha, uncomfortably aware of strange goings-on in the household herself, is reluctant to believe that Alice is a witch. Yet visiting scholars attracted by the news are convinced, evidence mounts and soon the entire village is swept up in the frenzied persecution of one of their own community.