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Susannah Morrow
by Megan Chance

Category: Fiction / Historical
402 pages; ISBN: 0446529532

Rating: 8/10  (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: Harriet Klausner

Review

1691 Salem, Massachusetts, fifteen-year-old Charity Fowler watches her mother grow weaker as she gives birth. Charity’s puritanical and pious father Lucas is meeting his sister-in-law Susannah Morrow, who just arrived from England on a visit, at the docks. Lucas and Susannah return to his home in time to see his wife give birth and die. A troubled Charity soon believes that Susannah is evil incarnate as a disciple of the Devil.

Lucas begins to worry about his daughter whose behavior seems weirder everyday. He reads from the bible to soothe her soul, but that seems to upset Charity more. Worse, Lucas is very attracted to Susannah though the memory of his wife fresh in the ground lingers. As hysteria turns a town into an avenging mob seeking anything remotely different, the former London stage performer Susannah is an ideal target. She is accused of witchcraft and incarcerated followed by the jailing of Lucas as a mad frenzy takes charge of the townsfolk.

SUSANNAH MORROW has plenty going for it as a powerfully vivid look at the Salem witch trials. The story line is loaded with historical information that enhances the novel by bringing to life this odd period (though some might disagree insisting that we still conduct witch-hunts today). The three key characters seem fully developed and genuine, yet the tale never fully takes off as the plot overuses suppressed sexual reactions inside of Hawthorne’s circles so that the first person narration in three parts never quite hooks the audience. Megan Chance is a talented author who remarkably radiates a light on the late seventeenth century in New England that historical novel fans will feel is worth the chance of reading.

Harriet Klausner

 

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