The Witch Hunter's Amulet

General Fiction

By Marco Lobo

Publisher : Christopher Matthews Publishing

ABOUT Marco Lobo

Marco Lobo
Marco Lobo, a Portuguese national was born in Hong Kong. Educated in Asia, the UK and the US, he has travelled in six of the world’s continents. Exposed to intercultural issues from an early age, Marco utilizes his insights to explore historical connections between people and culture—a More...


With the Inquisition extended to Portugal’s overseas territories, Manuel Andrade is sent by the Catholic Church to Goa, India,  to arrest witches—the consorts of Satan.  In 1564 he arrives in India— deathly ill, he is convinced that in order to recover, he needs to assemble a jeweled amulet. Andrade is Ill-prepared to deal with the intricacies of life and the culture in India. The country is on the brink of war between the Hindu Vijayanagar Empire and the Muslim Sultans of the Deccan Plateau. The Portuguese, ever-hungry for territorial expansion and for more Catholic converts, add fuel to the fire, bringing the cauldron to its boiling point.  Based on both real and fictional events and characters this novel graphically explores the terrible themes of hypocrisy, persecution and torture that characterized this period. Also rich in lush detail, The Witch Hunter’s Amulet allows the reader’s senses to experience the exotic smells, sights and vivid colors of 16th century India.

Portugal’s violent occupation of India in the sixteenth century was much more than a plunder of the country’s great material wealth. The Portuguese also sought to stamp out the ancient traditions of Hinduism and Islam throughout their Asian territories— everyone living in Portuguese India, centered in Goa, was forced to convert to Catholicism. The Witch Hunter gets wealthy by arresting women accused of being the consorts of Satan. As an official, but very much the showman, Andrade is sent to Goa to work for the Office of the Inquisition. There his life is thrown into turmoil when he is convinced that he needs to possess a navaratna, a jeweled amulet. In this historical novel, we follow the Witch Hunter on a Quixotic journey through colonial India. Oblivious of the true conditions of the world which he has entered, he clings to his old ways as he tries to create his own reality. He is poisoned—sick and half-crazed, he goes in search of the jewels that he believes will restore his health. He blunders through a tiger hunt, goes to war, does his work in the torture chambers of the Grand Inquisitor and presides over a farcical witch-trial gone wrong. Eventually, he too is thrown into the inquisitors’ dungeons to face trial for heresy.

The title describes this period of history accurately. The Inquisition was a very black period and the Church was determined to rid their holdings of anyone they suspected as not a true Christian. Inquisition was the ultimate way to show Church's wrath and in very few cases, its fairness.

The novel opens with the burning of an effigy of a woman in Northern Portugal. She died during interrogation Manuel Andrade, the Witch Hunter. The author's descriptions are so detailed you can almost smell the stink of the crowd and the smell of sulfur, which was added so the crowd would believe that the Devil was really being driven out of their village.

Following his "successes" on the continent Cardinal Henrique appoints Andrade to search for witches throughout the Portuguese territories of India. The 16th century was a time when anyone considered different risked being called a witch and your enemies could accuse you of witchcraft. The church forced people to convert to Christianity and then if you were not "devout" enough in their eyes they could charge you with witchcraft. It was a way for the witch hunter, officials of the area and the Church to acquire the wealth of those executed and to promote fear and religious fervor among the rest of the town.

The Witch Hunters and the Church used "THE MALLEUS MALEFICARUM" as an aid to recognize witches. "It presented arguments based on gross distortions of logic, without which the arguments could not be supported. Any inexplicable malady could be attributed to magic, and therefore, might be considered witchcraft." While this novel is a work of fiction, this book was real and used as an aid to discover witches.

This is an impeccably well-written debut, the characters are well developed and the author's descriptions of events and places allow you to travel back in time. If you like historical fiction this is a novel you should read. I look forward to reading more from this promising author.

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