Rating: 4 out of 5 Skeins of Yarn
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.
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