• The Bossy Bookworm

Review of Hour of the Witch by Chris Bohjalian

Hour of the Witch is a thoroughly researched, witchy, historical thriller with fantastic details of the time.

Bohjalian's newest book, Hour of the Witch, published earlier this month, takes place in 1662 Boston, where strong-willed women like main protagonist young Mary Deerfield--especially if they have not yet borne children--are suspicious and frequently considered dangerous.


Hour of the Witch is a thoroughly researched historical thriller with fantastic details of the time that focuses on the character of a twenty-four-year-old, faithful Puritan wife trying to escape her violent, often drunk husband, who is a widower twice her age--and the witch trial that followed.


Bohjalian traces infuriating injustices perpetuated against the female characters--who like the real-life women of the time, are largely powerless and often not considered autonomous beings. Mary's foul treatment by her husband--and the community's unwillingness to protect her--may have you roiling with rage, but just know that Mary has a fiery spirit and some tricks up her sleeve, and she doesn't intend to go quietly.


The community's collective suspicion builds and grows into panic and paranoia, twisting Mary up in its grasp as those around her swarm and snarl, eager to condemn her to death for imagined, feared dark forces. Bohjalian's protagonist Mary straddles the line between meek and mild helpmeet and spirited, strong woman, and I was cheering for her every step of the way--even as I had to resort to deep breathing to read about all she endured as a woman subject to her cruel husband's whims.


I received a prepublication copy of this book courtesy of Doubleday Books and NetGalley.


If you like stories about witches, you might like the books on the Greedy Reading List Six Wonderfully Witchy Stories to Charm You.

Do you have any Bossy thoughts about this book?

Bohjalian is also the author of a fantastic book about World War II, Skeletons at the Feast, the difficult but riveting story The Guest Room, and a book about the Armenian genocide that is personal to Bohjalian himself, The Sandcastle Girls, as well as Midwives, The Flight Attendant, and other books I haven't yet read.


I mentioned this book--along with Maggie Shipstead's Great Circle and The Book of Delights by Ross Gay--in the Greedy Reading List Three Books I'm Reading Now, 4/28/21 Edition.