Author: Celia Rees
Publisher: Cambridge, MA : Candlewick Press, 2001.
After 14 year old Mary Newbery’s grandmother is accused of being a witch and killed, Mary decides she needs to flee England. With help, she boards a ship of Puritans for America, where she hopes she can lead a life in peace. Unfortunately, the Puritans are a suspicious lot and very superstitious, believing witchcraft to be behind every unfortunate thing which befalls them. This book is written as Mary’s diary, and we see her struggle as the community she has come to rely on turns on her as the outsider and persecutes her as a witch.
A well written book about the Puritans. I particularly enjoyed it since it was a book about them and witchcraft but not about the Salem witch trials. The book is written as a diary and has a foreward from another women talking about how she came to find the diary, lending the work a more authentic feel. The book is an excellent representation of the way mass hysteria works and how difficult it is to stop a rumor once it has started. Definitely appealing to tweens, especially tween girls, though I think most boys would enjoy it if they didn’t mind that the main character was female.
Genre: Historical Fiction
Reading level: 5th-6th Grade
Similar Books: Time enough for drums
Personal thoughts- Great book about witch hunts
Subjects/themes- Historical Fiction, Witches, Persecution, Puritans
Mary- believes she is a witch, but must hide it from everyone
Martha- a healer who is the first to welcome Mary
Tobias- is collecting information on plants
Elias Cornwell- pastor who comes over on the boat with them, his uncle leads the
charge against Mary
Annotation: So everyone has turned on you and accuses you of being a witch, what do you do next?