5.0 out of 5 stars *A believable retelling of an old story - with a new twist*, December 26, 2009 By Bobbie - "Andromeda's Gramma" (United States) - See all my reviews (TOP 500 REVIEWER) AMAZON
My first introduction to the Salem Witch Trials was in High School when we read Arthur Miller's The Crucible (Penguin Classics). Even at that time I wondered, what could have made people act in that fashion.
We discussed many theories (including ergot) that could have caused the hysteria and consequent behavior.
In reading through "The Afflicted Girls," I found myself looking at this time in our history in a whole new light. Suzy Witten has done incredible research - not only into the trials but also into the history of that era. As I read the story, I found myself seeing each of the characters in a new light and believing the possibility that Witten proposes through the story.
While the book is historical fiction - based on an actual event - it is also a wonderful story in its own right. From the first page to the last, the story pulls you in, demanding your attention and belief in the characters.
The presentation of facts (and conjecture) in the novel left me with enough questions that I couldn't resist revisiting some of the internet-based information and ended up agreeing that Witten's conclusions concerning the source are well-conceived. Both social and physical events contributed to the hysteria that would blight Salem for more than 300 years.
I HIGHLY recommend this book to anyone who enjoys colonial history and novels. You will not be disappointed.
4.0 out of 5 stars *A new author fortunate to have such a compelling story of which to write.*, December 27, 2009 By Mahlers2nd "Mommy of Many Interests" (TOP 100 REVIEWER) AMAZON
I've always been fascinated by the Salem Witch Trials so when I was offered the opportunity to read this book, I thought it would be a great read. I must confess that Suzy Witten -- the author provided me with a copy of the book to review which is how I obtained the book.
This appears to be Ms Witten's first novel but she has picked a fascinating subject for it. For the most part, the prose and the writing and dialogue are very well done and not plagued with overly-pretentious wordiness that some authors feel the need to engage in. The language and the voice of the story is readable but sometimes the mixture of more modern colloquialisms combined with the puritanical period were a bit jarring and made it difficult to follow the continuity of the story.
The set up to the "famous events" surrounding the Salem Trials is very extensive in this book -- some might say a bit plodding. At points, I found myself thinking 'get on with it already'. However, overall, the author is excruciatingly thorough in her character development and setting the place and tone. Plus, in order to set up for the main events, I think most of that development is necessary and I would be hard-pressed to give advice as to what to eliminate.
The overwhelming thought was that it was a miracle that our country survived its early days given all the requirements for physical survival combined with the constant political and mind-games that the villagers employed with each other.
There are definitely surprises in the book that will keep you wanting to read more. It isn't just a story of "mean girls gone awry" as Miller and the Crucible would have you believe. As with all good historical fiction -- and this qualifies! -- you are left wanting to learn more about what which parts were historical versus fiction... you wind up learning more about the subject. This is what Ms. Witten has accomplished and therefore, deserves a great deal of praise for bringing her readers to that point!
Overall, I really enjoyed the story despite the flow and organization being a bit distracting. The author does a great job building suspense and developing the "backstory" (how I despise that word) for how the Salem Witch debacle comes together. There is so much more insight into the period of events than you would get from your regulation Arthur Miller "The Crucible". You definitely come away after reading the book feeling like you were much more part of the action rather than just an observer. And you also wind up feeling like you understand what took place much much better.
This is a solid first effort from Ms. Witten and would highly recommend to anyone who has an interest in early American Historical Fiction or the Salem Witch Trials.
Nan Hawthorne, Shield-wall Books said... I want to start the ball rolling by saying that esily the best new book I read in 2009 was Suzy Witten's "The Afflicted Girls". It is destined to go down in literary history as the best novel about the Salem Witch Trials. Wiien captures not only the psychology of the place and time but the very sound of it. I know it is available at Amazon.com and no doubt by special order everywhere. January 4, 2010 8:24 PM