Kit’s Crit: The Hour of the Witch (Chris Bohjalian)
After the young Mary Deerfield moves to Boston, she becomes the new second-wife of an abusive Puritan widower called Thomas Deerfield. Thomas likes to drink and pick arguments with his woman. One such night he attacks Mary with a fork, badly damaging her hand – but she has grown weary of trying to hide her bruises from family and friends and decides the time has come to divorce her husband on the grounds of cruelty.
The patriarchy close ranks and force her to stay in a dangerous, loveless marriage. Things escalate from bad to worse until Mary is forced to seek help from the local wise women and ultimately finds herself on trial for witchcraft. She is pronounced guilty and sentenced to hang.
The Hour of the Witch is well-researched, nicely paced, and skillfully written. The only time I detected a male writer was in one of the early sex scenes, although the rest of the story is convincing and engaging. In summary, this is one of the finest historical fiction witch books published to date.
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