Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Witch of Blackbird Pond

Rating: 4 out of 5 Skeins of Yarn

My friend Ariana raved about this book. I'm always a little leery about reading books my friends rave about because I just keep thinking "What if I hate it even though they loved it?" So there is a little pressure to be nice about the book simply because of who suggested it to you. I have decided, however, not to mince my words and just give this a fair and objective review.

It is good. At times I felt like it was overly girly when it talked about dresses and boys and all that but you cannot discredit the excellent writing of Ms. Speare. I realize it was written in 1958 so it's been around for a long time and the writing style is pretty old-fashioned, but it was still an enjoyable read.

I have been loving Salem witch trial books lately for some reason (I know I've said that before). This book shows the witch trials from a different perspective. Instead of the usual stories where you see people that have lived in the town for a long time and then it is suddenly turned upside down with all these accusations, Speare's story shows a complete outsider coming into a totally different culture and belief system that has to take on the paranoia of the Puritans. It is a refreshing tale in that sense.

Kit Tyler, the protagonist, is very believable and funny at times. Her love for Nat, the seaman, is realistic and seems to flow naturally. A lot of the visual is shown rather than told. One of my favorite moments is when Kit goes to Meeting on Sunday dressed in a bright frock with feathers. She says she feels like a tropical bird among all the gray. That visual is carried on throughout the story and is even nicely commented on by Nat who says he wondered if a tropical bird could survive here.

I liked the way the relationships were handled. Mercy is a lovable character and it is heartbreaking when John Holbrook is about to ask for her hand in marriage but is sort of coerced into being engaged to Mercy's sister Judith. It all works out nicely for everyone in the end.

As for Hannah Tupper, the Quaker who everyone thinks is a witch, I thought she should have had more play in the story. For awhile she's just a mysterious figure then she is merely a nice old woman who Kit befriends. I guess the point was to show that a harmless relationship can lead to destruction when paranoid Puritans are involved, but I wanted there to be more to Hannah because, at least at first, I thought the title of the book was named after her. But then I realized that she is not the witch of Blackbird Pond. It is Kit who is the witch of Blackbird Pond.

I only gave this 4 skeins of yarn instead of 5 because, as good as it was, I felt like it was lacking something. Maybe it's because I'm older than the intended audience so I just don't get it. It would also help if I were female and about twelve years younger than I am, then I think I would love this book. Even when I was reading Twilight I didn't feel as girly as when I read this one.

For a young reader, though, this would be a great choice. It has some great themes running through it, a little dash of symbolism with the tropical bird stuff, and plenty of intrigue and romance to go around. I just feel that, if the same type of book were written today, it should/would have more back story, depth, and emotion to it.

I did like the book. Thanks, Ariana, for suggesting it to me. I will continue to trust your taste in books. I would definitely recommend it for young readers ages 12 to 16. Preferrably female but there are some things that young men can get out of it as well. I think it paints a nice picture of that time period.

Stay tuned for more book reviews!

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad you liked it. I see your points of view (I did read it when I was young, afterall, and I am a girl:), but it has always stuck with me, all these years later. I've actually been wanting to read it again and I'm curious if I would feel the same now. I think that the reason they were making Hannah out to be so mysterious is because a Quaker woman to the normal Puritan person was very much abnormal and weird, therefore questionable. However, it goes to show that people are people and they can still be great people, despite religious differences. But yes, I see why you would expect more of her character. Perhaps Elizabeth George Speare didn't want to detract from Kit. Didn't you just love Kit and Nat. I wish they would make it a movie somehow. I really do love it. Simple, but so worth the read.