I think, for many of us, the Salem Witch Trials hold a sense of morbid curiosity and perhaps a little shame or disgust. We hear about it, briefly, in American History class or through pop-culture with shows like Sabrina on Netflix. But what do we really know about the trials? More than that: what do we know about those involved?
That is the question Author Juliette van der Molen sought to answer through her book, Confess: The Untold Story of Dorothy Good.
(By the way…the link to my vlog can be found here)
Who is Dorothy Good, you may ask? Well, she is the daughter of convicted (and murdered) 17th century American witch Sarah Good. Dorothy, however, was only four years old when she was arrested, imprisoned, and manipulated into convicting her own mother for sorcery.
What a sad start to one’s life…
That, therefore, was the story van der Molen set out to tell. Who was Dorothy and what happened to her? Although, rather than simply doing a biography, this book marries some historical research/artifacts–like Dorothy’s arrest warrant–with poetry.
Okay, the vast majority of the book is poetry, which I find incredibly interesting. Instead of traditional historical tellings of an event–this happened, which meant this would to this other event, blah, blah, blah–or even a scenic recreation–just look at The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks–van der Molen explores the raw emotions and reactions to the events around Dorothy and the Salem Witch Trials.
Split into four parts and a total of eighteen poems, readers begin to learn more about how this little girl felt being arrested, torn from her mother, and forced to live with that aftermath–all at the age of four.
I will admit, there are a few times when it was a little difficult for me to determine the actual narrator (darn focalization) because most of the time it seemed like it was Dorothy telling the story, but there were a few parts when it seemed like maybe it was Sarah’s?
In either case, it was evocative and engaging and I highly recommend. I think van der Molen did a great job with the poetry–it’s beautiful–and it’s evident by the biography and acknowledgments that it was thoroughly researched.
I think one of the most moving parts, other than the poems ” ” was at the end where there is an “In Memoriam” section. I really appreciated the fact that van der Molen included all 200 names of those accused, as well as the twenty who were killed. It seemed like an appropriate, respectful, and informative decision.
I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in history and/or poetry–it is sure to be a great read!
I am also excited to announce that I had the opportunity to interview the author, you can see that here.
That’s all I’ve got for this week, I’d like to thank Isabel Kenyon of Twist in Time Magazine for reaching out to me with this opportunity–hope y’all saw the blog tour!
Look out for my next posts on: An Audible Silence by J.A. Plosker
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