Friday, September 19, 2014

Revisiting the Salem Witch Trials Hysteria in CONVERSION by Katherine Howe

CONVERSION is a unique combination of historical fiction dealing with the Salem witch trials and news story from today's headlines about a mystery illness at a boarding school.

Your quickie synopsis:
When girls start experiencing strange tics and other mysterious symptoms at Colleen's high school, her small town of Danvers, Massachusetts, falls victim to rumors that lead to full-blown panic, and only Colleen connects their fate to the ill-fated Salem Village, where another group of girls suffered from a similarly bizarre epidemic three centuries ago.

I enjoyed the alternating narration between the late seventeenth century teen girl in Salem Village and the current day boarding school teen Colleen. The voices were authentic to the respective time periods. I didn't remember the details of the witch trials from studying The Crucible in high school, so it was fun to watch them unfold here. The author expertly wove together a lot here with not only the two time periods, but also the use of The Crucible. The writing is fabulous. My highlighter kept busy highlighting many beautifully descriptive paragraphs. There were a lot of characters, and I did lose track of some of them. But the main characters were well done. Even though the book felt long, it did keep me interested until the end. I have some questions about the end, but I won't spoil it here. I'll just say that I'm not all together satisfied with the ending. Overall, though, I think weaving together these two ideas was brilliant and made for a great story.

Check out the Katherine Howe's for more on this book. It appears that doing this research led to another to write another book called The Penguin Book of Witches. It's looks fascinating. Oh, and the author is a direct descendant of three accused Salem witches. (How's that for street cred?)

If you're interested in the Salem witch trials, this book will fascinate you. I became enthralled.

Check out the brief book trailer: