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.
The 14th Colony
Series: Cotton Malone #11
Author: Steve Berry
Published: April 5, 2016
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4 stars
What happens if both the president and vice-president-elect die before taking the oath of office? The answer is far from certain—in fact, what follows would be nothing short of total political chaos.
Shot down over Siberia, ex-Justice Department agent Cotton Malone is forced into a fight for survival against Aleksandr Zorin, a man whose loyalty to the former Soviet Union has festered for decades into an intense hatred of the United States.
Before escaping, Malone learns that Zorin and another ex-KGB officer, this one a sleeper still embedded in the West, are headed overseas to Washington D.C. Noon on January 20th—Inauguration Day—is only hours away. A flaw in the Constitution, and an even more flawed presidential succession act, have opened the door to disaster and Zorin intends to exploit both weaknesses to their fullest.
Armed with a weapon leftover from the Cold War, one long thought to be just a myth, Zorin plans to attack. He’s aided by a shocking secret hidden in the archives of America’s oldest fraternal organization—the Society of Cincinnati—a group that once lent out its military savvy to presidents, including helping to formulate three invasion plans of what was intended to be America’s 14th colony—Canada.
In a race against the clock that starts in the frozen extremes of Russia and ultimately ends at the White House itself, Malone must not only battle Zorin, he must also confront a crippling fear that he’s long denied, but which now jeopardizes everything. Steve Berry’s trademark mix of history and speculation is all here in this provocative new thriller.
My brain hurt after reading this book, in a really good way! I’ll start with my main problem that brought it down a star: That question is in the description. It pretty much gave away the main twist. It was kind of annoying that so much anticipation was built up throughout the story, just for it to be written on the back of the book all along. But I love a good old society. And I love Russians. And I love spies who are so badass that they can do anything. I don’t mind Canada, but I’m ok that we never conquered it.
This book kept me going from page 1. Something is always happening, someone is always being shot at, someone is always in danger. The whole book is what I’d call an experience. While the twist felt a little anticlimactic, the action never ceased. This is perfect for those who like a thriller with a good conspiracy. I really enjoyed it while sitting on the beach!
The Amber Room
Author: Steve Berry
Published: August 26, 2003
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4 stars
Atlanta judge Rachel Cutler loves her job and her kids, but her life takes a dark turn when her father dies under strange circumstances, leaving behind clues to a secret about one of the greatest treasures ever made by man. Forged of the exquisite gem, the Amber Room inexplicably disappeared sometime during World War II. Determined to solve its mysteries, Rachel takes off for Germany with her ex-husband, Paul, close behind. Before long, they’re in over their heads. Locked into a treacherous game with professional killers, Rachel and Paul find themselves on a collision course with the forces of greed, power, and history itself.
I’ve been on a thriller/conspiracy kick lately. Steve Berry does seem to be the king of a good conspiracy! I’ve read The Amber Room before, but it’s been a very long time so I decided to reread it: And it was worth it! Russian treasure is the kind of thing I’d like to find while randomly digging on the beach. I don’t have the athletic prowess to be a treasure hunter, so I’ll just live vicariously through these characters. Thankfully, most of them are likeable! I prefer the villains in this story . . . not that that should surprise anyone. I mean, sneaking into rich people’s European castles to steal their already stolen treasures sounds like a dream come true. I could do without all the murder, but that’s not the point! The Cutler’s are a nice couple, but the silly passive aggressiveness got a little boring after a while.
There’s a good bit of everything for everyone in this book. You may not like history, but there’s plenty of action to keep you distracted. Overall, I really like this book. I plan to go see the Amber Room reproduction before I die and maybe we’ll get lucky and the real thing will eventually be found!