Her father, a wizard himself, has forbidden the use of her powers for her own protection. But when accusations of witchcraft start flying through Salem Village, Elizabeth wishes she was more prepared.
Despite her lack of magical knowledge, Elizabeth appoints herself to save the innocent women from the untimely demise the village has in store for them. Elizabeth finds, however, that she is not the hero Salem needs her to be. When Elizabeth is betrayed by someone she trusts, she loses control of her emotions and unintentionally curses the village with the ten plagues of Egypt. Now, Elizabeth must figure out how to break the curse before the morning of the tenth plague—the plague of death.
If she fails, Salem will cease to exist."
I would like to thank Clean Reads Publishing & Heather Eagar for an e-book copy of this book to review. Though I received this e-book for free, that has no impact upon the honesty of my review.
Let's see, how to best review this book. I wish I could rave about it, but it fell pretty flat for me. Part of the problem I have with the story was my own fault, first for not anticipating that the author would pretty faithfully recreate the cause of the Salem witch trials, and second for not accurately recalling the ten plagues of Egypt. Had I remembered them I might not have felt so betrayed by what's written in the book teaser and in the book itself, for they are two different things. I suppose it could be argued that's it's simply a matter of degree, but that's not how it felt to me.
But before we get to that, I'd like to talk about Elizabeth and some of the other characters. As protagonists go Elizabeth is alright, but she never quite reached me. I found that no matter how much I wanted to, I simply couldn't connect with her or get behind her emotionally. I may not have grown up in Salem during the height of the witch trials as a witch, but I certainly went through those awkward periods of not knowing how to control my own emotions, not understanding them. So I expected to have had more of a connection to her than I did.
Anna, Elizabeth's younger sister, was entertaining. I actually found her to be a more sympathetic character in many ways. Her desire to be like her sister, that feeling of exclusion when she was barred from learning the same secret materials from their father - those emotions felt strong for me. They made her much more relatable, even though growing up I was the younger sibling and I had a brother rather than a sister.
The Winters family was a shining point in the story, they way they hung tough in the face of danger and strife. Few other families came through the who witch trials ordeal as unscathed, and by that I don't mean physically but instead being true to who they were as a family. They never wavered from their convictions, and stayed faithful to each other and their beliefs. Only a few others could say the same by the end.
The overall message of the story is a good one, and shared in an unusual and entertaining way. Though I missed some important connections with certain characters that doesn't mean other readers will. I felt that this was written more for middle grade readers than for older teens and young adults. That certainly doesn't mean they wouldn't enjoy it, just that it may hit the right notes with the slightly younger set. It's an easy read and would make for a good summer book if you're given a reading requirement to fulfill between grades. The historical aspect surely won't hurt, and may even gain you credit with your teacher!
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