Sunday, July 6, 2008

The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare

7 of 12 for the 2008 Young Adult Challenge
2 of 3 for the tl;dr challenge
1 of 6 for the Classics Challenge
5 of 11 for the Summer Reading Challenge

This is a breathtaking book. It takes us to Puritan New England, in the colony of Connecticut. Sixteen year old Katherine (Kit) arrives in America after having been brought up by her grandfather in Barbados. Her liberal Shakespeare-reading, ocean-swimming, silk-dress wearing upbringing did nothing to prepare her for the inflexibility and piousness of her aunt’s family that takes her in. In fact, Kit’s free thinking and outspoken ways create suspicion and irrational fear.

Speare’s characters are fleshed out and conflicted and it is a pleasure to watch them learn and grow throughout the book. Kit’s constant impulsive decision making and the inadvertent consequences never felt contrived. The time period and its rigid culture played a huge part in the plot of this novel – where seemingly harmless gestures and friendships can somehow make a person seem like a Satan-worshipper and be put on trial for witchcraft. It was a tremulous and frightening time, where politics were a constant topic of conversation as the colonists were just beginning to decide that they no longer wanted a king.

Kit’s indecision about what and who she loves, and where she belongs, rang so true to me. The descriptions of New England itself and of the traditions and chores of the time were expertly woven into the prose. The sprinkling of romance throughout the story fit just right and I loved the ending. If you are a lover of young adult historical fiction, this Newberry Award winner is a must-read.


Stephanie said...

I read this a while ago- last year, maybe, and very much enjoyed it. I had always resisted reading it before- I think I thought it would be about something else, and was very pleasantly surprised to find it was dead-on, accurate-to-a-T, historical fiction, and beautifully written. I'm glad I waited to read it- I spent five years living on the Connecticut shoreline, and that really made the book come alive for me. Glad you enjoyed it too!

Kya said...

My daughter read this book and it looked really good. Your review has inspired me to also read it.

Trish said...

I think I've heard of this one but the story doesn't sound familiar at all. Thanks for the review--sounds like something I'd enjoy a lot!

Heather said...

This is one of my all-time favorites. I agree that the strong characters and strong sense of place and time make for a treasure of a book. I too absolutely love the ending!

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