Something terrible happened in Salem in 1692 . . . but it isn't what you think! THE AFFLICTED GIRLS A Novel of Salem by author-researcher Suzy Witten presents a startling new theory of the Salem Village witch-hunts which is certain to put this 300 year old unsettled mystery to rest . . . by expertly guiding readers through The Historical Record to revelation. Part parable, part star-crossed romance, and part supernatural venture, this is an intuitive human history--and inhuman--spun with a modern twist. A controversial debut by a new Historical storyteller. (For ages 16 and older)
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THE AFFLICTED GIRLS A Novel of Salem
Centering her story on Salem Village and its inhabitants, exploring their dark household corners as if she is solving a crime, Suzy Witten adeptly details how the disintegration occurred while spinning familiar facts in new directions--with the mysterious afflictions finally explained.
2010 IPPY SILVER MEDAL for Historical Fiction
Salem Village, Massachusetts
Late winter 1692
JOHN INDIAN, THE PARSONAGE MANSLAVE, WAS HACKING at the frozen ground in the meetinghouse graveyard. Winged death-heads, crudely carved skulls, bird-flanked mossy faces stared out from their frost-patched marker stones. Icicles, some with cedar shingles attached, began falling from the eaves of the steeply pitched roof. The sun was breaking through.
A heavy storm had come barreling in two nights ago after a week of early spring weather. No one saw it coming, except his wife. She’d sat up all that night staring into the blank whiteness of it having her visions—it was something she always did when it snowed. Then in the morning she’d have things to tell him. Yesterday was no different. She said somebody in the village had died and he would be digging a grave today. She went quiet for a spell then said: ‘Evil spirits hoverin’ round that body. Blowin’ a storm into it. Don’ you be touchin’ it.’
He dropped his shovel, walked to the water barrel at the side of the church, poked through a thin icy veneer and ladled himself a couple of mouthfuls, splashed his sticky face and aching neck and wiped a winter’s worth of dirt off a cracked pane and peered inside. He saw his master, Reverend Samuel Parris, standing at the pulpit behind a miniature casket. A dead baby was inside it, wrapped in its winding sheets. He stared at the tiny thing, listened to the funeral-goers singing their hymn-song. A shiver wrinkled his spine. Maggot song. Dead song. Thinkin’ is alive. He began folding in his rich sweet baritone, not because he was a believer—he wasn’t one—but because he loved to sing:
How great His power is none can tell
Nor think how large His grace
Nor men below, nor Saints that dwell
On high before His Face
Shutting his eyes to the wasteland around him, he was soon back in his warm easy sugarcane fields scything the fragrant stalks, feeling a familiar breeze skim his bare back, lopping off a piece to chew, glad to be alive. Till a devilish shriek from inside the church yanked him back to his frozen ditch. He looked at the screamer, guessed it was the baby’s ma. Then went back to his digging and wondering about the evil baby with the storm inside it.