Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Book Review: The Wolves of Andover

The Wolves of Andover is the prequel to The Heretic's Daughter, which is a novel about the Salem witch trials in colonial Massachusetts, written by a descendant of Martha Carrier, one of the women executed for witchcraft. As a descendant myself of one of those women (Mary Ann Averill), I was interested in these novels and since both had good reviews, decided to start with the prequel and read them in sequence.

Well, that may have been a mistake. The Wolves of Andover did not fully capture my interest or imagination. I appreciated the historically accurate descriptions of the difficult living conditions of the day, but ultimately did not find the protagonist, Martha Carrier, a sympathetic or engaging character. If the author depicts her accurately, then perhaps others in the community felt the same way, thus setting the stage for the accusation of witchcraft and her execution that comes in The Heretic's Daughter. But since I haven't read that book, I don't know how she is depicted in that book.

Spoiler Alert: Martha falls in love with a mysterious farmhand who turns out to have had a pivotal role in the execution of King Charles I during the English Civil War and is being sought by assassins in the pay of his son, Charles II. The chapter that fully discloses this part of the story is set in italic print, which I found annoying, hard to read, and unnecessary. I didn't find the love story very convincing, either.

The Wolves of Andover is not a bad novel--parts of it are well-written and evocative of its time and place.  On the whole, I would give it an average rating. I don't plan to read The Heretic's Daughter any time soon, but if you are interested in these novels I recommend you read that one first because it has more positive reviews.

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