Rave Reviews Log: Historical Fiction

October 24, 2006

The Witch of Blackbird Pond

By Elizabeth George Speare
Period: Colonial America
Newbery Medal 1959
Rating: 4 1/2 stars
Reviewed by Noelle

In the year 1687, Katherine "Kit" Tyler is aboard the ship the Dolphin, arriving in the colony of Connecticut from the tropical island of Barbados where she had grown up with her grandfather. But upon his death, Kit finds herself poor, and heads for the only family she knows she has--her Aunt Rachel in America. Although her new family does make her welcome, Kit doesn't fit into the harsh New England Puritan lifestyle. Her fine clothes are better than anything her new family could afford and as unfit for housework as Kit is herself. Her very differentness causes jealousy and hard feelings amongst her cousins Judith and Mercy. Kit feels discouraged by everything from the strict religion they observe to the unending work she makes a mess of to the unwelcoming weather to her loyalty as a subject to the King during a time when revolution against England is beginning to brew. Even when one of the richest young men in town, William, chooses to court her, Kit is at a loss because her real attraction is to the son of the captain of the Dolphin, Nate. But she finally finds some solace when she meets Hannah, the old woman who lives by the edge of Blackbird Pond. Some call her a witch, but Kit knows her for a kind Quaker woman who gives Kit, Nate and even an abused child named Prudence some peace. Although Kit is forbidden to visit with Hannah, she continues, but little does she know that her friendship with the old woman will result in a terrible chain of events that threaten not only Hannah, but everyone who had befriended her. Will Kit ever find happiness in Connecticut? And can she escape the terrible fate that she brought upon herself? This excellent historical novel will bring readers right into a world where politics and religion mix with fear and superstition and the daily drudgery of carving out a life in the New World. Fascinating and believable.


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