Mercy Lewis. Mary Walcott. Ann Putnam Jr. Betty Parris. Abigail Williams. Elizabeth Hubbard. Susannah Sheldon.
Those are the real names of young girls (the oldest was 18, the youngest was only 8) who accused others of witchcraft in Massachusetts during the late 1600s. These accusations resulted in at least 23 deaths, and more than 144 people had legal action brought against them (according to the author's concluding notes). With poetic and creative license, this book tells a story of those responsible for the Salem Witch Trials.
What sets this novel apart from others based on the history of Salem, Massachusetts is the existence of a palpable atmosphere of innocence mixed with jealousy, terror, and infatuation. While the characters might not be wholly sympathetic, it is easy to follow the line of thinking that leads them through their actions, both in the situations where they are found socializing just within their small social circle, as well as those where they are standing up to men of a courthouse and entire communities of adults.
This novel in verse is recommended to all those with an interest in the historical and psychological stories of past and present-day witchcraft and/or teenage cliques, as well as the Salem Witch Trials.
Call number: YA HEMPHILL (Teen Room)
Reviewed by kate the librarian.
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