Hour of the Witch

Doubleday. May 2021. 416p. ISBN 9780385542432. $28.95. SUSPENSE
Mary Deerfield, a young Puritan woman, finds herself in a very precarious situation, having to battle the rigorous demands of her religion and the politics of life in 17th-century Boston. Her husband, Thomas, abuses her. When the abuse escalates, she petitions for divorce, but Mary is met with the expected pushback from a religious society that takes such inquiries very seriously. Meanwhile, three-pronged forks, which are new to Boston and viewed by the Puritans as devil’s tools, are found planted in her yard. This leads to accusations of witchcraft, which further endangers Mary’s life.
VERDICT Bohjalian’s (Midwives) historical novel is full of twists and turns. Though not a typical suspense novel, the story has many of the page-turning plot lines of a thriller, and is sure to keep readers enthralled. Though it’s set in the 1600s, Mary’s story resonates today, as it addresses the role religious and societal expectations can play in the lives of individuals. A must-read and highly recommended.
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