This book is filled with all of my favorite things, Those are magic, conflict, witches, and historical fiction. A book about the witch trials sounds quite good to me! I picked this up on a whim one day at my favorite bookstore. It was on the three dollar shelf. It is worth so much more than that to me. It really was a beautiful book.
The books start out in a beautiful way, ‘I am Mary. I am a witch.’ Quickly we realize that this book is about a nifty teenage girl in 1659. This is during the time that people are quite superstitious.
Tragedy hits when her grandmother is arrested, tortured, abused, and then hanged in the town square. She has been accused of being a witch. They went on a hunt and unfortunately their narrowmindedness has cost her life. They did a series of "tests" that were supposed to prove if she was a witch. Mary witnessed that. When that happened, she realized she had to flee to safety, before the town turned on her also.
Ultimately Mary gets rescued by an unusual, rich woman. She believes this woman is hiding something. She believes the detail she is hiding is that she is Mary's mother. They are Puritan how are fleeing to the new world. Will they find out who she is? Will she be discovered and killed?
This was a captivating and utterly beautiful story. It was addictive and quite a page turner. The story is told in a series of journal or diary entries that have been sewed into a quilt. I really enjoyed this detail. It gave the reader a sense of urgency, a sense of fear, and a sense of what the character might have felt. This is a super tragic story that ends in a powerful way. The history just seemed to ooze off of every page.
Mary, herself, was an interesting character. She was robust and determined. She had a spirit that was all her own. She has been forced to be brave. She had emotions that were raw, she was intense at times. She was your typical teenager. She was very realistic which made it all that more believable.
All the other characters were very well rounded and real. The story had quite a small cast of characters which made it easy to understand. There was the Reverend Johnson, which is a puritan who seems to believe that he is a prophet of God. Martha the woman who take Mary and saved her. Also Jaybird, the Native American boy who became one of her only friends. There were more but I wanted to highlight some of the main ones.
I had an issue with the pace of this story. I felt like sometimes it left things unclear, or quickly passed over them. What type of magic did they have? Why did the Puritans believe people were witches? What made them believe Grandmother was a witch?
Overall, this book was a well-written story that possesses diverse characters, beautiful writing, and a mind blowing intense plot. A book that is determined to cause an addiction.
Enter the world of young Mary Newbury, the world where simply being different can cost a person her life. Hidden until now in the pages of her diary, Mary's startling story begins in 1659, the year her beloved grandmother is hanged in the public square as a witch.
Mary narrowly escapes a similar fate, only to face intolerance and new danger among the Puritans in the New World. How long can she hide her true identity? Will she ever find a place where her healing powers will not be feared?
Just two weeks after publication, Celia Rees's WITCH CHILD spirited its way onto the Book Sense Children's Only 76 list as one of the Top 10 books that independent booksellers like to handsell. Within a month, this riveting book sold out its first two hardcover printings.