The Hypnotist

The Hypnotist by Laurence Anholt

In the dead of night, Pip is plucked from an orphanage and hired as a farm hand. But Pip is black. The farmer and his wife are white. And this is 1960’s America, where race defines you.

Jack Morrow has left his native Ireland dreaming of a new life in the American Deep South. He has certain skills that he mostly keeps hidden. Skills in hypnotism and mind control…

Pip and Jack’s lives become inextricably linked as the heat of racial tension builds to a terrifying storm.”

Part thriller, part love story, this extraordinary debut novel looks at where life can take you when your expectations are great.


Annabel Bassett- Sir Robert Woodard Academy

28th November 2017 at 8:25 am

Annabel (SRWA):

I thought that The Hypnotist was one of the best books out of the five. It was very clever and had very intriguing story line. I liked learning about the Ku Klux Klan and hypnotism. It was a very eye opening book that I would strongly recommend to anyone who is 11+.

Emmy and Izzy, Year 11 Mayfield School

27th November 2017 at 4:23 pm

Emmy and Izzy (Mayfield) Year 10:

We felt that the beginning was well done and set it up for the rest of the book. The characters were highly defined, differentiated and varied, and we especially enjoyed the references to Dickens. The switches between points of view were well done and cleverly constructed. We also enjoyed the addition of Hannah’s songs. The inclusion and development of a semi-mute was interesting and well done due to how you were still able to understand her thoughts and feelings. The inclusion of a high-powered, well-respected individual being in involved in the discriminative actions was very important, because it showed how characters tried to justify their beliefs, but we did not feel it was essential for the plot. We felt that the ending tied up the loose ends, but we were reluctant to leave the characters. 9/10

Aoibh, Year 10 Mayfield

21st November 2017 at 5:05 pm

Aoibh (Mayfield) Year 10:

I really enjoyed The Hypnotist because I thought the characters are all realistic and play an important role in the story’s narrative. Despite the book being set in the 1960s, I felt that this book’s plot is still relevant in Trump’s America. 7/10.


8th November 2017 at 1:14 pm

Francesca (SRWA):

This book is my favourite so far. It is about a young black boy taken from an orphanage to live on a farm. Throughout the book I felt a mixture of emotions especially as the story progressed. I did not expect the ending at all and it was certainly well worth it. Overall it is an incredibly well written story.

Rui Silverthorne

6th November 2017 at 8:16 pm


At first I thought The Hypnotist was dull and it didn’t engage me at all, but I carried on reading and it became a really good book. It was the exact opposite from what I thought it was at the beginning because something was always happening, there was lots of drama! My favourite part of the book was when Pip gets his inheritance from the secret hiding place because it is though he becomes a man, and acts all grown up.
I would rate this book 4/5 stars because it has a great plot.


17th October 2017 at 1:40 pm

Rafaella (SRWA):

A book about racism in 1960s America. There are a lot of references to Charles Dickens’ book ‘Great Expectations’. It talks a lot about the racial tension to non-white people. I like the idea of the KKK being there as the main anti-black and Edwin being the leader. He adds different views when he was hypnotised by Jack. The prejudice against the two young children shows how race can define you.

Abegail Morley

17th October 2017 at 12:20 pm

Ms Morley (Benenden):

There is so much to write about this book! It was gripping, sad, happy, terrifying and interesting, all at once.
Part of the story is told around a young, black boy, in a time in America when the Ku Klux Klan dominated parts of the country. It tells us how he is plucked from his orphanage and taken to a farm in the middle of nowhere, where he meets Jack, a young professor with extraordinary gifts, Hannah, a brave young farm girl that Pip grows to love as watches her around the farm, Lilybelle, an obese, but lovable mother-like woman and Erwin, the son of Lilybelle and the farm owner, but also the leader of the KKK!

The other part of the story is told by Jack, Pip and Hannah’s teacher, who has the gift of hypnotism.
This is an enchanting story which I loved!

Jess, Year 10

12th October 2017 at 12:06 pm

Jess (Causeway) Year 10:

Quite a short story but really compelling to read. it really goes into detail about racism in the KKK and makes the story seem realistic. I loved it!

Ameleah (PCS)

12th October 2017 at 9:09 am

Ameleah (PCS):

Didn’t enjoy the start was boring the font was unreadable and boring. Worst book of them all.


12th October 2017 at 9:08 am

Busta (PCS):

It’s a good book at the end but the beginning is boring and I did not get at first the two characters

Ashley Wang, Year 9, Roedea School

11th October 2017 at 11:51 am

Ashley (Roedean) Year 9:

In 1960s America, races weren’t exactly equal. And Pip, the orphan boy who was hired by a farmer to take care of his wife, plunges into a racial turmoil. Pip is black, the farmer is white, and blacks and whites weren’t supposed to get along…
Luckily, he is not alone, Hannah, Pip and Jack (a skilled hypnotist) form a close bond and they fight back. As Pip fulfills his great expectations, the three realizes that when the whole world is silent, a single voice is powerful.
I loved Anholt’s descriptions of the characters’ thoughts, they were portrayed very life like and they were real. When Jack was torn between his own safety and others’, Anholt did not make Jack immediately spring up to bravery but made him go through an inner struggle before his decisive moment. I learnt that heroes aren’t born naturally and that every risk and every act of bravery requires thought over it.

Khadijah uddin

6th October 2017 at 7:33 am

Khadijah (Ratton):

I really enjoyed this book because it show what life was like in the 1960s in America with the KKK and what others thought about them and its effective of how the author put two people’s stories together. I rate this book 10/10.

Saoirse (Hurstpierpoint) Year 9

22nd September 2017 at 10:42 am

Saoirse (Hurstpierpoint) Year 9:

I liked this book because I thought the plot was novel and intriguing. It was hard to get involved in the story at first because I was not completely convinced by the narration of Jack. However, I liked Pip and Hannah so I became really involved in their stories.

Priya (Roedean) Year 9

13th September 2017 at 3:53 pm

Priya (Roedean) Year 9:

The Hypnotist is an incredibly moving story about racism, nationality and humanity, with very little humour. It tells the story of a young boy named Pip and his encounters with a mysterious cult of men with white robes and pointy hoods, referred to by Pip as ‘the ghost men’.

The two other main protagonists in the story are a young Native American girl named Hannah, who has been mute for years, and an Irish Hypnotist and Professor at the university, Dr Jack Morrow. It is America in 1963, and Hannah and Pip are both working for a farmer and his wife. Pip has been taken from an orphanage in the dead of night, and has a tragic backstory, as we learn not far into the story. Pip is Black, which puts him at great risk, as the farmers’ giant of a son is extremely violent and dangerous towards those from other cultures, despite his parents’ democratic views. We learn this a bit later, after Pip has been working for the family for a couple of weeks.

Jack lives next door to the farm that Pip has just been employed on, and becomes their tutor when Zachery (the farmer) appeals to him for help when he receives a letter saying that he must educate the children he has in his care. Throughout the story, the relationship between Jack and the children develops until he becomes something of a father figure to them and treats them as if they were his own children. As he is white, and Pip and Hannah are both considered ‘coloured’, he is able to protect them more than once during the story, also by using his powers of hypnotism.

The structure of the story is part of what makes this book interesting. It begins with a chapter entitled ‘How this story ends’ and ends it with a chapter entitled ‘How this story begins’. This intriguing structure gives the story insight and makes you feel like you are actually inside the story, as if the book is talking to you, from the way these chapters are written.

The writer also includes plenty of clever similes and metaphors. One of them, on page 41, describes the sun setting as ‘The orange sky turned violent red and purple like a spreading wound.’ This simile turns something normally seen as beautiful into something grotesque and horrible, in order to fit into the atmosphere of that part of the story. Another example of this sort of simile is on page 123, where the twisted silhouettes of the apple trees in the dark are compared to ‘vile hags’. But my favourite comparison is on page 182; ‘leaves rustled and whispered like waves around a shore and the sky was a turquoise ocean, through which swallows swooped like flying fish.’ This is a lovely way of describing one of the beautiful and happy moments of the book, and sheds a bit of light into the darkness that consumes most of the book.

But the what makes The Hypnotist most moving, is that it is based on the true history of the struggle against racism in the 1960s. It really captures the despair of those who didn’t have a voice, and it how seemed like there was no way out with no-one on their side. This book really makes you question humanity, and gives you a view from the perspective of those affected by racism at the time, and from my perspective is an ultimate deterrent towards racism as we truly get a grasp of the horrors they went through that are quite graphically described in the story.

At times, the story can be quite upsetting and so I wouldn’t recommend this to younger readers or people who think they may be upset by this. But The Hypnotist will really open your eyes to the fact that, although we have come a long way from when the story was set, the world is far from perfect.

Ella (Roedean)

8th September 2017 at 2:16 pm

Ella (Roedean):

I really enjoyed this book for many reasons, one being the two narratives which kept mage hooked and the variation in writing, with Hannah’s songs and poems every now and then and the way Jack wrote in 2nd person. The book taught me valuable lessons about the height of racial tension in the 1960s and about the Ku Klux Klan. I feel as I’d this book had a very important message that was well presented in this story. I loved Laurence Anholt’s style of writing and I would happily read this book again given the opportunity.

Molly (Roedean)

6th September 2017 at 8:44 pm

Molly (Roedean):

I liked this book because it was so different from the normal topics in teenage fiction

Scarlett (Roedean)

27th July 2017 at 9:45 am

Scarlett (Roedean):

The Hypnotist is a really exciting book. It is about a boy and a girl named Pip and Hannah who work on a farm, and Professor Jack Morrow (the hypnotist) who lives near the farm. The novel is set in the 1960’s and in this period of time, your race and religion defined you. The reader discovers how Pip struggles as he tries to fit into a white society and how Hannah is tortured by Erwin, the farmer’s son. Through Jack Morrow’s character, the reader learns about the KKK movement and how terrifying it is. I would recommend this book to 12-14 year olds and I rate it a 8/10.

Jane (Roedean)

25th July 2017 at 7:32 pm

Jane (Roedean):

The Hypnotist by Laurence Anholt was a read that I thoroughly enjoiyed. I found the opening gripping and it made me read on. The characters in this book- especially Jack- were intriguing and mysterious. This book was easy to understand and fairly quick to read. If I could, I would have happily read this in one sitting. I loved how often the theme changed, from Pip and Hannahs romance, to Erwins spooking gatherings. Another feature I loved was the dual narrative. Overall Anholt has not only entertained me, but taught me about 1960s America and the Klu Klux Klan. I rate this book 9/10.

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