I love the history of the Salem Witch Trials. A native Southern Californian, when I had an internship in New England, the only weekend trip I took wasI love the history of the Salem Witch Trials. A native Southern Californian, when I had an internship in New England, the only weekend trip I took was to Salem. I’ve been there multiple times since I moved to Massachusetts, and find the history fascinating. When I saw that Katherine Howe was writing a new young adult novel that had some basis in the Salem hysteria, I knew it was a must read. Sadly, it didn’t live up to my expectations.
Howe tries something interesting in Conversion. She links the current phenomena of mystery illness among high school students to the hysteria in Salem in the 1690s. The current school in Danvers, MA is a hotbed of stresses: girls worrying about grades, competing with each other for class rank, hoping to get into their ideal colleges, and, of course, boys. Then, the coolest girl in school starts to twitch uncontrollably in class.
This book had so much promise. It just didn’t work for me for the reason that some other young adult books by adult novelists don’t work. Howe doesn’t write in a convincing teen voice. Her first-person narrator comes across as inauthentic and stilted. On top of that, it takes her much too long to draw certain connections that are obvious to readers from the outset. There was much face-palming while I read this book.
While young adult fiction must seem like a goldmine, not all authors should attempt it. It isn’t as easy as it seems to write a good young adult novel, and Howe just doesn’t pull it off. It’s too bad. Conversion is a good idea, poorly executed....more
I found this book to be a disappointment. It was full of grammar errors, punctuation errors, and general typos, which made it difficult to read withouI found this book to be a disappointment. It was full of grammar errors, punctuation errors, and general typos, which made it difficult to read without wielding a red pen. Additionally, Jasper spends too much time praising the innkeepers at the beginning of each story. Doing so buries the lead, and quickly becomes repetitive. These complements should have been gathered together and presented as notes and the beginning or end of the volume. I wasn't reading to find out who makes great soup, I was reading for a ghost story. The book piqued my interest about exploring some of these inns, but overall was not spooky enough....more
Marc Aronson has written a very readable history of the Salem Witch Trials. In it he contends that the popular view of this event is full of flawed idMarc Aronson has written a very readable history of the Salem Witch Trials. In it he contends that the popular view of this event is full of flawed ideas, and attempts to describe the many mysteries and gaps in knowledge regarding establishing the history and motives of the trials. Aronson also summarizes the major historical work that has been done up to this point regarding the trials, providing a nice, brief state of the research.
Overall, a decent read and definitely teen appropriate. My personal gripe is that he completely left out Giles Corey! I think, in the context of his argument, that Corey's refusal to submit a plea and therefore lose his land is a major point that was overlooked.
On an unrelated note, I took a sight-seeing trip to Salem while I was reading this. Although not my first visit, this book helped me to look at the popular history presented throughout town through a more critical lens....more