(I received this book for free as part of Goodreads First Reads giveaways).
(This review may contain spoilers).
The time of the witch trials is definitely one of the darkest moments in history. I wouldn’t say this book was an easy read… but I felt the author did a good job of showing the effects of the mass hysteria.
I found it easy to connect emotionally with Fiona, but less so with the other characters, who I felt ranged from being ignorant to outright cruel. I also had a really strong dislike for Burnett… and I’m not sure he was supposed to be ignorant or if there was incomplete information in researching. (The story of Jonah was wrong, as an example).
I did find it hard to differentiate between many of the minor characters. Eilidh’s grandmother was one of the ones I did find it easy to understand, though… and most of the other members of the village as a whole seemed unwilling or unable to stand up for the right thing to do… but that is something that does happen nowadays. (You’d think people would have learned…)
There were some quite dark moments in this book and I did feel quite hopeless while reading it. I wasn’t entirely sure why Dawkins wasn’t living in the village… but I disliked him as a character as much as I did Burnett. And the others in authority who had the power to refute the accusations of witchcraft but didn’t.
This book did draw me in and made me feel angry and sad at turns. I wasn’t sure exactly what was causing the goings-on in the village, but I think that lack of knowledge does make the book that much more powerful to read.
I would have liked to see more of Trent and Samuel. While their actions towards the end of the book were good, I was a bit confused about why they in particular were acting… though I suppose it could have been because they were outsiders.
The book did do a good job of showing that a cycle of this kind snowballs… and although I’d hope people would learn from the horrors of the past, the horror of the present-day makes it quite clear that people haven’t learned.