Growing up, author Karen Vorbeck Williams learned about the history of witches in her native New England. As a child, her grandmother told tales of witchcraft and lore from colonial Massachusetts. Totally captivated by the fact that some of her ancestors were associated with witchcraft, Williams felt compelled to write a book based on her family history and her grandmother’s recollections. She created a fascinating novel based on Mary Bliss Parsons, her 11th great-grandmother, who was accused of witchery.
The story focuses on early colonial life in 17th century New England, where people of that era struggled daily to survive. They faced numerous obstacles settling a new land: weather conditions, disease, farming, and the sometimes contentious native populations. Williams’ great-grandmother was no different in this respect, but her nemesis, Sarah Lyman Bridgeman had a way of complicating life in the settlement. The two developed a lifetime of unease between them that led to hard trouble for both families and false accusations of murder and witchcraft. The result is an engrossing tale of colonial hardship and American history.
Williams’ 20 years of research brings an interesting and enlightening story of colonial America in the Connecticut River Valley to vivid life. While action is at a minimum, the narrative and numerous characters move the tale along quite nicely keeping the reader entertained to the end.
Reviewer: Gene Berger