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The Afflicted Girls |
Author: Suzy Witten
Category: Historical Fiction Level: Advanced
"THE AFFLICTED GIRLS: A Novel of Salem"
Winner of 2010 IPPY SILVER MEDAL for Historical Fiction
(Independent Publisher Book Awards)
A Walt Disney Studios Fellowship Finalist
"Something terrible happened in Salem in 1692 . . . but it isn't what you think!"
THE AFFLICTED GIRLS, A Novel of Salem, by author-researcher Suzy Witten presents a startling new theory of the Salem Witch Hunt which is certain to put this 300-year-old unsettled mystery to rest . . . by expertly guiding readers through the historical record to revelation. Part parable, part star-crossed romance, and part supernatural venture, this is an intuitive human history--and inhuman--spun with a modern twist. Centering her story on Salem Village and its inhabitants, exploring their dark household corners as if she is solving a crime, the author adeptly details how the disintegration occurred while spinning familiar facts in new directions, with the mysterious "afflictions" finally explained.
(Adult fiction, ages 17 and older) Historical Fiction/Visionary Fiction, 456 pages
PAGAN Reviews from AMAZON:
Witch Mark (5 stars) : "Having spent so much time researching the Salem Witch Trials in the past few years, it was thoroughly enjoyable to snuggle up and spend part of this snowy January in Maine reading "The Afflicted Girls, " a novel by Suzy Witten. This book is written in such a way that the reader feels as if she has been drawn into the story and is experiencing the events as they happen. The fictional format gives both the author and the reader the ability to figure things out, understand the thought patterns of the characters, and tuck in all the loose ends in ways that have eluded academic historians for the past 300 years. I have often wished for the "invisible hand" that the fictional writer can use to sort and make the past understandable. This book is not history but it is storytelling at it's very best! I recommend it."
J. R. "Librarian" (5 stars) : "This realistic novelization of the Salem Witch Trials was a joy to read. I often shy from historical fiction, particularly novels in which the author has held close to the true events (as Witten clearly has done) , because I usually find them dry and lacking in a clear narrative voice. Witten's novel suffers neither of these defects -- her characters are fully developed with voices that inspire sincere empathy. Witten provides a rational and convincing set of circumstances that could realistically result in the bizarre events that took place in Salem village, while not completely discounting the numinous possibilities that make the event so mysterious and intriguing. Although she takes some liberties with minor events and indulges in creative speculation, the novel nonetheless rang true to the spirit of one of the darkest episodes in American history. Definitely recommended!"
Julie Ann Dawson, "Bards & Sages" (4 stars) : "... If it were about fifty pages shorter, I would call it flawless. As it is, however, it is perhaps the closest thing to perfect we've seen in recent years in regards to revisiting the history and legend of Salem Village."
Delia The Crone (4 stars) : ... "I was held by the book from the beginning, anxious to learn how she would handle the mystery of tragedy. Her fictionalized theory of the event was unexpected, albeit certainly possible. The actual event will now forever be an even deeper mystery in my mind, as Witten's concept joins the list of theories, and becomes yet another very real possibility."
COVENANT OF THE GODDESS, Samhain 2010, Review by Stachia Ravensdottir:
"The Afflicted Girls: A Novel of Salem" by Suzy Witten presents a new twist on the Salem Village witch-hunts. If you want a strictly accurate historical re-telling of the Salem witch trials, this is not the book for you. Witten weaves her history into a fictional tapestry jealousy, betrayal, greed, and dark eroticism that’s hard to put down. The Afflicted Girls is written in the style of the period, which is a little off-putting at first, but definitely lends itself to setting the mood of the story. The author’s attention to detail in the day to day customs of the time, such as food preparation, herb use and common household items, coupled with her exquisite psychological make-up of the characters, leaves you feeling as if you were there, silently peeking over their shoulders. Part mystery, part supernatural, part erotica, this is definitely not for the young teens, or the faint of heart, but it is worth reading.
THE AFFLICTED GIRLS A Novel of Salem by Suzy Witten
Reviewed by Mike Gleason (8/2/12) :
The Afflicted Girls by Suzy Witten © 2009 Dreamwand (ISBN: 978-0-615-32313-8) Paperback 456 Pages $18.95 (U.S) & Kindle, Nook, iTunes, Google, Kobo eBooks ($6.15-$7.99)
I had planned to review this book long ago but, due to unforeseen circumstances on several fronts, it fell through the cracks. Having lived in the vicinity of Salem for decades (my last two children really haven't known any other environment) I always look forward to seeing how others see the events of 1692. I came from the Midwest and had studied a bit about the trials as a result of my interest in
Witchcraft, and was amazed to find myself more aware of some aspects of them than locals who grew up in the area.
The witchcraft trials of Salem, Massachusetts have become both infamous and famous. Their infamy rests on a solid historical basis – hundreds of people were accused of having congress with the Lord of Evil by a small group of youngsters; over a dozen and a half (nineteen to be totally accurate) were executed for this crime; many others spent months in dank confinement (some died as a result, although they tend to be overlooked since they weren't formally executed) ; families were destroyed – while the fame tends to come from misunderstanding. Salem today is a mecca for members of the current Witchcraft movement. Many of those individuals loudly proclaim that the “witches” executed died for the freedom of their faith when, in reality, they were “good, God-fearing Christians” who refused to admit to a crime they hadn't committed (even though such an admission would have saved their lives, but would have cost them their soul) . Those who died at Salem would, doubtlessly, be appalled to hear themselves being held up as martyrs by modern-day Witches and Wiccans.
This book takes a new look at the events of that short period (less than 1 year) of colonial history. And although it makes no pretense of historical accuracy it is the result of research and thus can serve as a reminder that there are multiple sides to every story. While we are used to perceiving Puritans as a dour, joyless group, we must remember that there were rebels among them, and not all inhabitants of
the colonies were Puritans by any means.
Some preachers (Reverend Samuel Parris, for example) would preach hellfire and damnation while others might expound on God's love. Where Parris could see joy and happiness as a sign of lack of commitment to God's expectations, others could see those same attributes as a celebration of God's gifts to humanity. Parris' life had not been an easy one prior to his arrival in Salem Village (now Danvers) , but it had not been one of abject poverty either. As a purveyor of God's enlightenment he expected a certain level of deference and preferential treatment, but he was human enough to be
resentful (even spiteful) , and to show it, if he did not receive what he perceived was rightfully his.
Through the years the causes of the accusations and trials have been debated without serious resolution. This book continues that debate, while tossing in some ideas which have never been discussed (to the best of my knowledge) in the mainstream debates. It helps to “flesh out” many of the characters who were central to the action by considering them as living, breathing people who had all the feelings and desires of any human being.
The first half of the book is preparation for the introduction of the accusations of witchcraft. And the accusations begin, not as one might expect, but as a reaction to a children's game on a pleasant picnic. The events which precipitated the well-known onset of accusations come about because of a child's attempt to recreate something with an incomplete knowledge of the preparations of the ingredients.
Looking at the events from a fresh perspective opens up new possibilities. There were well understood tensions seething beneath the surface of this small New England village. There was the split within the parish with some wishing to terminate Reverend Parris' contract and others wishing to retain him; there were disputes about land ownership, the interpretation of wills (inheritance and disinheritance) , and hurt feelings enough for a major feud.
Ms. Witten has widened the net considerably through the introduction of sexual tensions and frustrations (which many have failed to consider, since we all KNOW that Puritan society wasn't interested in sexual matters) , not just among the adults in the community but among the adolescents as well. Bridget Bishop was the object of desire for some men (and the object of jealousy from some women) , but she wasn't the only desirable female in the community. Convention, then as now, was ambivalent as regards the sexual behavior of the members of the community.
While the events in Salem Village during the winter of 1692 are a matter of historical record, and thus somewhat limited in HOW they can be interpreted, the underlying motivation (s) and the thoughts of the individuals involved are largely unknown, thus allowing for a greater latitude in interpretation. The causes may be physical (the now
largely discredited ergot poisoning) , psychological (mass hysteria) , a combination of both or something as yet totally unconsidered, and we may never know for sure. Ms Witten has offered another view of why things happened and, if nothing else, it is presented in a far more entertaining way than many such attempts.
Do not confuse this book with a historical account, which it is not. Do not expect great revelations. However, if you enjoy historical fiction, with fully believable characters, with a look at the sometimes dark side of human nature, you will probably enjoy this book. It has been out for a while, so you might have to spend a little extra time looking for it, but it will be worth the effort, I assure you.
Author's Notes: Suzy Witten's career spans twenty years in the entertainment industry: as a filmmaker, screenwriter, story analyst, and editor for film and television. A graduate of USC's School of Cinematic Arts, she was nominated for a Women In Film "Lillian Gish" filmmaking award for her dramatic film "Runaway Eden" about Hollywood's teenage runaways, and she was a Walt Disney Studios Fellowship Finalist for her screen story of Salem, "The Afflicted Girls." Alongside being a novelist, she works as a Public Affairs Media Relations Specialist, Writer and Researcher during disasters for FEMA. She resides in Los Angeles. THE AFFLICTED GIRLS is her first novel.
Where To Buy: Amazon US, UK, Canada, Barnes & Noble, iTunes iBookstore, Google Books, Kobo Books, Powells, etc. (Paperback & eBook) and Bookshare (for physical vision impaired readers)
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