The Afflicted Girls: A Novel of Salem ~ by Suzy Witten (reviewed by Shellie)
When two young friends, both orphans, arrive in Salem MA in 1692, the litigious and imbalanced nature of a community sets in motion a horrific series of events. The author uses a unique perspective around why she thinks this may have occurred.
About: This is set around actual events where the warped moral boundaries and a desire for revenge inflame the emotions of a local pastor and a selfish young woman. Situations are manipulated for personal gain, culminating in the hanging deaths of a number of its core community members - for witchcraft. Bloody scary!
It’s a historical novel about this infamous North American witch hunt, with a slightly different take on the original. The author’s slant is very plausible and extremely intriguing. While not giving this key piece away, let’s say that through some research and a bit of insightful luck or brilliance, Suzy Witten has added a theory around this 200 year old story which has created a page turning twist of a tale - a very good one at that.
Thoughts: One of my favorite genres is horror, so I devoured this story. At the same time, because it is based on a true story it is all the more terrifying, especially since it is entirely possible that something of this nature could happen again. As well as its plausible and intriguing twist, it has complex and well developed characters - many are easy to relate to and likable while others are naturally despicable. With its insight, it feels like a study in human nature with extreme examples of human failings. I was left on the “edge of my seat” (or the bed since I usually read at night). At one point I had to set the book aside with the downward spiraling events.
Another element which I liked is that there is “lustiness” as a large thread throughout the story, giving it darkness and juiciness which in my opinion did not become unrealistic and standardized (one of my peeves). So if you’re looking for a “clean” read this is not a good book for you. Witten also uses language that is accessible yet with a slightly “old English style” so that you feel like it is set within the period which it occurred. These elements give depth to the story and make it perfect for a historical fiction novel.
This is an impressive independently published debut novel, even though the author has extensive writing experience - she is a Walt Disney Studios Fellowship Finalist, which you can definitely tell by reading this book. The Afflicted Girls is also the winner of The 2010 IPPY Silver Medal for Historical Fiction (Independent Publisher Book Awards). I would say that this book deserves 4.5 stars. I will be waiting for Suzy Witten’s next book since I think she is a talented writer and am curious why this book has not been snapped up by a bigger publisher. Highly recommended!
For more on Suzy Witten link to her blog, website, and Goodreads, and for more information on the book and its author please see Layers of Thought’s preview for The Afflicted Girls.
Can you believe this is my first review for 2011? I better get crackin here!
Thanks for reading!