Susanna English desperately wants to join the circle of girls who meet every week at the parsonage, but she doesn’t realize the leader of the group, the malicious Ann Putnam, is about to set off a torrent of false accusations that will lead to the imprisonment and execution of countless innocent people-victims of a witch-hunt panic. “The author’s skillful manipulation of the conventions of the young-adult novel-particularly the rich exploration of being an outsider and going against the mainstream-makes this book a superb vehicle for examining the social dynamics of this legendary event.”-The Horn Book
Historical fiction readers, both adult and young adult, will be fascinated by this tale of the Salem Witch Trials. Rinaldi has an uncanny talent for slipping into the skin of her characters. In this novel, her viewpoint comes from Susanna English, the daughter of a rich merchant. Susanna's money and station place her outside the circle of girls at the center of the hysteria, but not outside their sphere of influence. Susanna knows that the accusations are being put forth by young adolescents driven by revenge-and by a wish to escape the boredom of church and Bible reading. Fearing for her family, she refuses to share this knowledge. As the fervor builds, so does Susanna's guilt and sorrow until finally she is rescued from "going down a dark road" by a loving friend and her own moral code. Rinaldi's research is flawless and her period familiarity striking, but her strongest power is as a storyteller.