Publishers Weekly
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Hemphill (Your Own, Sylvia) plumbs the psychological underpinnings of the Salem witch trials in blank verse monologues from three of the main accusers. Two girls, eight and 12, fall violently ill, having seizures and singling out neighbors as witches. Seeing the weight the girls' accusations are given ("All that Betty and Abigail say in fit/ is listened to like it comes from the town council"), Ann, Mercy, and Margaret snatch the opportunity to join in and move to positions of influence as well, targeting those who have harmed them or their families. Neighbors are jailed and even executed based on the girls' testimony, and even as wiser heads question their credibility, the girls turn on each other, fueled by jealousy, peer pressure, blackmail, and the desire to dominate the group. Even those familiar with the historical events will savor the exploration of the underlying motivations, as Hemphill breathes life into those long dead and holds a mirror up to contemporary society. The expressive writing, masterful tension, and parallels to modern group dynamics create a powerful and relevant page-turner. Ages 12-up. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved