Hour of the Witch
Author: Chris Bohjalian
Main Narrator: Grace Experience
Published: May 4, 2021
Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: July 8-15, 2021
Jessica’s Rating: 5 stars
Boston, 1662. Mary Deerfield is twenty-four-years-old. Her skin is porcelain, her eyes delft blue, and in England she might have had many suitors. But here in The New World, amid this community of saints, Mary is the second wife of Thomas Deerfield, a man as cruel as he is powerful. When Thomas, prone to drunken rage, drives a three-tined fork into the back of Mary’s hand, she resolves that she must divorce him to save her life. But in a world where every neighbor is watching for signs of the devil, a woman like Mary – a woman who harbors secret desires and finds it difficult to tolerate the brazen hypocrisy of so many men in the colony – soon finds herself the object of suspicion and rumor. When tainted objects are discovered buried in Mary’s garden, when a boy she has treated with herbs and simples dies, and when their servant girl runs screaming in fright from her home, Mary must fight not only to escape her marriage, but also the gallows.
A twisting, tightly-plotted thriller from one of our greatest storytellers, ‘HOUR OF THE WITCH’ is a timely and terrifying novel of socially sanctioned brutality and the original American witch hunt.
Unlike Bohjalian’s 2018 novel and more recent tv series The Flight Attendant (my review of the novel is here) which is a thriller, Hour of the Witch is Historical Fiction. It takes place in Boston in 1662, and our main character is Mary Deerfield. She is the second wife to Thomas Deerfield who is twice her age, with an adult daughter close to Mary’s age. In a time where women were subservient to men, Mary decides to petition for divorce from Thomas after an incident of domestic abuse towards her. This novel circles around the impeding proceedings for her divorce petition, but also causes other events to occur where Mary will have to fight for her life.
It is apparent that Bohjalian meticulously researched while writing this novel. As the listener of the audiobook version, I really felt like I was in that time period where it was very dangerous to be a woman suspected of witchcraft. It was not a good time to be a woman with the thoughts that women were ‘weak’, needed to be taken care of, and expected to marry then have children or face the thought of ‘being barren’. Bohjalian even wrote the novel in the language of the time, so the characters say thee, thou, make haste, and more throughout. I am thankful I listened to the audiobook because of this, I think I might have had issues if I had read the novel. The audiobook had a very well-done cast narration with Grace Experience being Mary Deerfield’s voice.
We do get answers to all of the presented questions by the end of the novel in a satisfying conclusion. Mary was very much ahead of her time with her bravery facing all that she did.
I was not sure what to expect with this novel, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I will also be reading more of Bohjalian’s novels.
Author: Chris Bohjalian
Published: March 13, 2018
Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Listened To: September 10-23, 2018
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars
Cassandra Bowden is no stranger to hungover mornings. She’s a binge drinker, her job with the airline making it easy to find adventure, and the occasional blackouts seem to be inevitable. She lives with them, and the accompanying self-loathing. When she awakes in a Dubai hotel room, she tries to piece the previous night back together, already counting the minutes until she has to catch her crew shuttle to the airport. She quietly slides out of bed, careful not to aggravate her already pounding head, and looks at the man she spent the night with. She sees his dark hair. His utter stillness. And blood, a slick, still wet pool on the crisp white sheets. Afraid to call the police—she’s a single woman alone in a hotel room far from home—Cassie begins to lie. She lies as she joins the other flight attendants and pilots in the van. She lies on the way to Paris as she works the first class cabin. She lies to the FBI agents in New York who meet her at the gate. Soon it’s too late to come clean—or face the truth about what really happened back in Dubai. Could she have killed him? If not, who did?
The Flight Attendant was the first book I have read by Chris Bohjalian and it will not be my last! It genuinely surprised me how much I enjoyed it as Cassandra (Cassie) is not likeable at all! She is very much the unreliable narrator who finds herself in a unique situation in a country that is oppressive to women: She wakes up and the man lying next to her is dead and she has no idea what happened!
Cassie is unlikeable for several reasons: she is a very promiscuous alcoholic who often blacks out. She really lives up the flight attendant lifestyle!
Unreliable narrator stories are hit or miss for me, but The Flight Attendant was a hit! I was drawn into the story from the beginning and never lost my interest in it. We also have multiple narrators, and you know those are some of my favorite kinds of novels! Despite not liking her, I really wanted to know what was going to happen to Cassie! There was even a moment that happened that I was not expecting and my mouth dropped as I was listening to the novel while I was washing dishes. Then we had the Epilogue, which was a great ending! I will be reading Chris Bohjalian again!
The Flight Attendant is recommended.[Top]