Hour of the Witch by Chris Bohjalian is a period piece in the mid 1600 America. It was you typical divorce stories husband beats on wife, she tries to divorce him and gets called a witch and has to defend against being a witch; so not typical at all. This novel will have you scream at characters, that I’m sure are accurately portrayed but so one sided and biased. The novel is set when the husband was king and they referred to the wife as the helpmate, it was not a partnership. This novel can be seen a feminist, it’s a fight for equal rights and to have a woman with strong ideas is not a bad thing. The trials are the best part of the book. The story is at it’s core simple but the way the story is told is what makes it so interesting. My only draw back was the novel repeats its self a lot. We go over the same issues twice during trial. It is an interesting story that could have totally happened and probably did during those times which makes is so believable. The Old English dialogue was fun to read. The ending was surprising and very fulfilling.
The Plot: Mary is married to Thomas a brut of a man who has two sides the good Christian and the abusive terror that only Mary gets to see. Mary is 24 and barren which is rare for the times, not with her lack of trying. Mary has a brain an thinks logically when other wives don’t. Mary believes in tonics and plants to heal instead of blood letting with leeches. She trusts in a woman Constance who heaven for bid choose to live alone and is referred in town as a witch one woman who was hanged already for a witch had dealings with Constance. Her father stirs trouble when he brings the devil’s trident to town, which we now a day refers to as a fork. Mary’s trouble starts when she finds a fork sticking up in the ground next to their door as a curse she accuses Catherine her handmaiden that has a crush on Thomas her husband. She dismisses it and finds one the next night but Catherine thinks she saw her plant it and already blames Mary’s tonics on killing her brother that was dying any way. Mary is accused of which craft her husband drunk and angry of the incontinence drives a fork into her hand. Mary files for divorce the next day as she is also accused of witchcraft. Will Mary get a happy ending or will she hang for being a witch, and will she find out who wants her, Thomas, or Catherine cursed?
What I Liked: The language was really fun. I loved the word “prithee” which means pray thee. The story was really interesting, simple but fascinating. I have not put much thought into divorce and it origins in the New World, but it was really interesting, almost as interesting as the witch angle. The trial and many judges, was also interesting. The ending was really stratifying, I didn’t know how it was going to end, but was happy when it ended the way it did. I had read the poetry of Anne Bradstreet a depressed puritan woman whose brother published the poems in England; I liked how they were used in the story. I liked that the character of Judge Adams wasn’t so biased and one sided that he thought of Mary as evil he could have figured it all out; I loved the moment when she realized and acknowledged how close he was to the truth of everything.
What I Disliked: the repetition was too much at times, the characters were not one note but a lot of their words were. That is the only thing I disliked but it was a high level of it.
Recommendations: This book is great, it is a little too repetitive but it still manages to be interesting. The 17th century is not a time period that I have read many books from, but I really enjoyed my time here. This is mainly a trail story, but there is drama and a mystery that fills the time not in the trial. I rated Hour of the Witch by Chris Bohjalian 4 out of 5 stars.