Hour of the Witch
By: Chris Bohjalian
Publication Date: 05/04/21
My Rating: TBR
“Absolutely riveting historical fiction that reads like the most page-turning of thrillers.” --Lisa Scottoline, bestselling author of Eternal
A Read It Forward Most Anticipated Book * A Lit Hub Most Anticipated Book * A CrimeReads Most Anticipated Book * A Real Simple Best New Book * A GoodReads Most Anticipated Book * An AARP Most Anticipated Book
A young Puritan woman--faithful, resourceful, but afraid of the demons that dog her soul--plots her escape from a violent marriage in this riveting and propulsive novel of historical suspense from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Flight Attendant.
Boston, 1662. Mary Deerfield is twenty-four-years-old. Her skin is porcelain, her eyes delft blue, and in England she might have had many suitors. But here in the New World, amid this community of saints, Mary is the second wife of Thomas Deerfield, a man as cruel as he is powerful. When Thomas, prone to drunken rage, drives a three-tined fork into the back of Mary's hand, she resolves that she must divorce him to save her life.
But in a world where every neighbor is watching for signs of the devil, a woman like Mary--a woman who harbors secret desires and finds it difficult to tolerate the brazen hypocrisy of so many men in the colony--soon becomes herself the object of suspicion and rumor. When tainted objects are discovered buried in Mary's garden, when a boy she has treated with herbs and simples dies, and when their servant girl runs screaming in fright from her home, Mary must fight to not only escape her marriage, but also the gallows.
A twisting, tightly plotted novel of historical suspense from one of our greatest storytellers, Hour of the Witch is a timely and terrifying story of socially sanctioned brutality and the original American witch hunt.
“Hour of the Witch is historical fiction at its best… Insightful and empathetic… Thick with details as chowder is with clams… handled with great skill and delicacy. The book is a thriller in structure, and a real page-turner, the ending both unexpected and satisfying.”
—Diana Gabaldon, The Washington Post
"A rich and terrifying story... A grab-you-by-the-throat suspense read that both historical fiction fans and thriller lovers will devour.”
"No. 1 New York Times bestselling author and literary legend Chris Bohjalian returns with a story about Mary Deerfield, a suspected witch in 1662 Boston who, while wrestling with her own internal demons and disastrous marriage, raises suspicion that the demons aren't just in her own mind."
—Zibby Owens, Good Morning America
"Classic Chris Bohjalian—moments of deep dread, extraordinary plot twists, and characters you love to root for paired with characters you love to hate."
"[Hour of the Witch] is set well in the past, but its witch-accusation drama feels contemporary enough to drive home how far Americans still have to go in dismantling the patriarchy... Flawed but compelling characters are in the author's wheelhouse... Moments of suspense make for gratifying white-knuckled reading, as do several whodunit scenarios.”
—Kristen Ravin, Seven Days
"Hour of the Witch is a gripping page-turner, written with beautiful prose and enthrallingly developed characters.”
—Mystery and Suspense Magazine
"Immediately engrossing. . . [Mary Deerfield] is a woman we can root for. . . Bohjalian’s smart stylistic choices ensure that the reader is well and truly transported back to 17th-century Puritan New England, and Hour of the Witch is a finely-wrought and emotionally-charged historical drama."
“Absolutely riveting historical fiction that reads like the most pageturning of thrillers, driven by its compelling heroine Mary Deerfield, a young wife who finds the physical and moral courage to stand up for herself in a time when women could be hung as witches... Hour of the Witch is a woman’s story, a romance, a history lesson, and a legal thriller, all of a piece. I haven’t read a novel like it in recent memory, and I doubt that I will for years to come.”
"A rich and terrifying story... Hour of the Witch by Chris Bohjalian is a grab-you-by-the-throat suspense read that both historical fiction fans and thriller lovers will devour."
"A probing page-turner about society's scapegoats and how elusive justice can be.”
"Throughout Bohjalian’s prolific career, he has rewarded readers with indelibly drawn female protagonists, and the formidable yet vulnerable Mary Deerfield is a worthy addition to the canon. Conjuring up specters of #MeToo recriminations and social media shaming, there are twenty-first-century parallels to Bohjalian’s atmospheric Puritan milieu, and his trademark extensive research pays off in this authentic portrait of courage in the face of society’s worst impulses. Bohjalian is a perennial favorite, and this Salem Witch Hunt drama has a special magnetism.”
“Bohjalian’s historical novel is full of twists and turns. Though not a typical suspense novel, the story has many of the page-turning plot lines of a thriller, and is sure to keep readers enthralled. Though it’s set in the 1600s, Mary’s story resonates today, as it addresses the role religious and societal expectations can play in the lives of individuals. A must-read and highly recommended.”
"A twisty thriller set in 17th-century Boston...With its exploration of themes including domestic abuse, toxic masculinity, and mass hysteria, the novel feels like anything but a period piece."
"Illustrates how rough justice can get when religion and institutional sexism are in the mix."
About the Author
CHRIS BOHJALIAN is the #1 New York Times best-selling author of twenty-two books, including The Red Lotus, Midwives, and The Flight Attendant, which is an HBO Max limited series starring Kaley Cuoco. His other books include The Guest Room; Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands; The Sandcastle Girls; Skeletons at the Feast; and The Double Bind. His novels Secrets of Eden, Midwives, and Past the Bleachers were made into movies, and his work has been translated into more than thirty-five languages. He is also a playwright (Wingspan and Midwives). He lives in Vermont and can be found at chrisbohjalian.com or on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Litsy, and Goodreads, @chrisbohjalian.