Mary is different, therefore suspect. She has friends, but she has also made enemies. Inevitably, there are mutterings about witchcraft and Mary finds that it may not be possible to leave her old troubles in England...
The story is written in the form of a journal, supposedly stitched into a quilt and merely edited by someone called Alison Ellman, who even gives her e-mail address in case readers want to contact her with further information about the characters.
While a journal is an acceptable novel form, if you?re going to claim this is a real seventeenth century manuscript, it should at least be told in language appropriate to the era - it isn't. It does work perfectly well as a historical novel, though, and the fantasy elements are light, not overpowering.
Some ends are left untied at the end, such as her friendship with the Indian lad, Jaybird, and the mysterious/mystical hare and female wolf that she sees in the forest. Perhaps a sequel is intended, but how? Another journal?
There is also a witch trial which, like the Salem one, begins with teenage girls playing with love magic and ends with hysterical accusations to escape prosecution themselves. One scene is taken almost directly from Arthur Miller?s The Crucible. Possibly the author didn't realise the Miller connection, but the connection with the Salem trials is clearly deliberate.
The environmentalist, feminist message is perhaps a little unsubtle, but on the whole, it?s an enjoyable novel and not difficult reading. Teenagers generally like novels written as journals or letters, because they can be put down. If you can persuade your teenager to read historical fiction in the first place, she should enjoy it.
Published in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
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Filed: 8-Dec-2000 Last updated: Last tested: 15-Jan-2009 Last Compiled: 17-Dec-2015
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