Puritan Witch: The Redemption of Rebecca Eames is a fascinating tale of one woman's terrible experiences during the Salem Witch Trials of the 17th century. The reader is led into a world of heart breaking and brutal horror, when hysteria gripped a community and neighbours allowed their fear to turn them against innocent friends. These victims suffered persecution, incarceration, pain and miscarriages of justice.
We are allowed to witness Rebecca's imprisonment, terror, physical and mental pain, and feelings of hopelessness; all of which cause her to sink into a malaise of madness. Her tragic tale begins with an angry word, said one day, during a quarrel with a member of the Swan family, with whom there is a long standing feud. The author’s treatment of these events illustrates well how such an everyday incident could cause someone, like Rebecca Eames, and their family to lose everything and makes one realise that no one was truly safe then. Although, I must admit it did make this reader pause to think of what similar atmospheres probably exist in communities governed by the Taliban, or even amongst the past societies of Mao Zedong and Joseph Stalin.
This is a well written, if disturbing, first novel. The book is well researched and from it I gained much additional knowledge. Peni Jo Renner's writing style is engaging, with realistic dialogue that seems characteristic of the region and times. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical fiction, which normally does not include myself as I find the blend of fact with imaginative fiction unsatisfying and usually full of holes. It was not the case with Puritan Witch which I found absorbing and strangely enjoyable.
Rating: 4 stars (WOW Blog)