Books, Historical Fiction, Young Adult Fiction

Book Review – Conversion

I admit, I had never heard of this book by Katherine Howe until I spied the striking cover in my public library. Compelled to read the synopsis, I discovered it was about girls who are afflicted in a private school, and the similarity to the afflicted during the Salem Witch Trials. The school is a Catholic girls’ school in Danvers, Massachusetts, which was originally Salem Village. The story is told from Colleen’s perspective, a girl who is feeling the pressures of senior year and the drive to get into a great college. When our story opens, that is all she has to worry about, but very quickly, the most popular girl in school falls out in advisory (i.e. homeroom). Other girls fall out in quick succession, until experts are called in, the media begin reporting, and everyone worries they are next. The story alternates between Colleen and the modern (well, 2012) events, and Ann Putnam, several years after the Witch Trials.

The modern-day tale is based on real events that occurred in LeRoy, New York, in 2012. Reading about the case, it appears Ms. Howe really took a lot of this book from the actual case. There are some famous people in the book that you will recognize, and yes, I had nailed it. I am actually the tiniest bit let down that one event actually occurred, names were just changed. Maybe it’s not let down so much as annoyed, because the event in the book was the most annoying and could have moved along without it, whether it happened in real life or not. Yeah, sorry being cryptic. I just do not want to give anything away.

Anyway…back to a review and not an external musing. The book is really good, there’s a large cast of characters that I occasionally had a hard time remembering. The story moved along fairly well, I did enjoy the book and want to finish, but…I was also distracted fairly easily, which is always a sign that it’s a “good” book to me as opposed to a “GREAT!” book. Still, I did thoroughly enjoy the historical bit, I have always been a wee bit obsessed with the Salem Witch Trials, but sadly, have rarely considered what happened to the accusers after the fact. This book offers a bit of insight into that.

Good book, great way to weave the history and modern. I will say another reason I picked this up, is because I am about to read a very similar book: Fever by Megan Abbott, who wrote Dare Me, which was so wickedly entertaining.  I’m not sure what the premise is exactly in Abbott’s book, just that teenage girls are having “spells”.


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