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The Precursor to the Salem Witch Trials - an Editorial Review of "The Devil's Glove"

Book Blurb:

Northern New England, summer, 1688. Salem started here. A suspicious death. A rumor of war. Whispers of witchcraft.

Perched on the brink of disaster, Resolve Hammond and her mother, Deliverance, struggle to survive in their isolated coastal village. They're known as healers taught by the local tribes - and suspected of witchcraft by the local villagers.

Their precarious existence becomes even more chaotic when summoned to tend to a poisoned woman. As they uncover a web of dark secrets, rumors of war engulf the village, forcing the Hammonds to choose between loyalty to their native friends or the increasingly terrified settler community.

As Resolve is plagued by strange dreams, she questions everything she thought she knew - about her family, her closest friend, and even herself. If the truth comes to light, the repercussions will be felt far beyond the confines of this small settlement.

Based on meticulous research and inspired by the true story of the fear and suspicion that led to the Salem Witchcraft Trials, THE DEVIL'S GLOVE is a tale of betrayal, loyalty, and the power of secrets. Will Resolve be able to uncover the truth before the town tears itself apart, or will she become the next victim of the village's dark and mysterious past?

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Author Bio:

Lucretia Grindle grew up and went to school and university in England and the United States. After a brief career in journalism, she worked for The United States Equestrian Team organizing ‘kids and ponies,’ and for the Canadian Equestrian Team. For ten years, she produced and owned Three Day Event horses that competed at The World Games, The European Games and the Atlanta Olympics. In 1997, she packed a five mule train across 250 miles of what is now Grasslands National Park on the Saskatchewan/Montana border tracing the history of her mother’s family who descend from both the Sitting Bull Sioux and the first officers of the Canadian Mounties.

Returning to graduate school as a ‘mature student’, Lucretia completed an MA in Biography and Non-Fiction at The University of East Anglia where her work, FIREFLIES, won the Lorna Sage Prize. Specializing in the 19th century Canadian West, the Plains Tribes, and American Indigenous and Women’s History, she is currently finishing her PhD dissertation at The University of Maine.

Lucretia is the author of the psychological thrillers, THE NIGHTSPINNERS, shortlisted for the Steel Dagger Award, and THE FACES of ANGELS, one of BBC FrontRow’s six best books of the year, shortlisted for the Edgar Award. Her historical fiction includes, THE VILLA TRISTE, a novel of the Italian Partisans in World War II, a finalist for the Gold Dagger Award, and THE LOST DAUGHTER, a fictionalized account of the Aldo Moro kidnapping. She has been fortunate enough to be awarded fellowships at The Hedgebrook Foundation, The Hawthornden Foundation, The Hambidge Foundation, The American Academy in Paris, and to be the Writer in Residence at The Wallace Stegner Foundation. A television drama based on her research and journey across Grasslands is currently in development. THE DEVIL’S GLOVE and the concluding books of THE SALEM TRILOGY are drawn from her research at The University of Maine where Lucretia is grateful to have been a fellow at the Canadian American Foundation. She and her husband, David Lutyens, live in Shropshire.

Editorial Review:

Run your finger across my cheek and along the tilt of my nose. You will find no scent of the men in their white collars who spoke of God and governed Hell. Trace the curve of my ear and the crest of my lips. You will hear no whisper of the secrets I traded with death, nor taste its dark ridges. Nothing will lead you to guess what sweet familiars we were, thirty years ago in Massachusetts, where they called me Witch.

Many know the stories of the Salem Witch trails in Massachusetts in the late 17th century, but as with any story, the rumours, whispers, and gossip begin many many years before a tale unfolds. Lucretia Grindle takes a step back in time from the classic tales of Salem, back to the beginning when fear started to grow, when the poison first erupted from a single monkshood flower, and when a young girl named Resolve discovers secrets of her own and of others within this small town south of Salem Massachusetts.

I think of the sour smell of fear, of the quick fumbling movements it begets, of its broken voice. Of how fear parses out those it seizes, weakening their minds, setting them apart like a fever or a pox. And how, like a fever or a pox, it is contagious. This is what my mother means about Mercy Lewis. Her aunt and mother never allowed her terror to heal. Instead they fed her, and doubtless still feed her, more terror. And it has scarred her. The wheals and sores are in her mind, not on her skin, but they are there. You can smell them in her sweat. See them in her eyes. You can look straight into Mercy Lewis's soul and watch the putrid cankers blossom there. And, I think, if you get too close to her, if you stay too long, you could catch them.

Resolve, and her mother Deliverance, are alone after their father and husband leaves them in pursuit of wealth in alliance with the French, and the reader becomes acquainted with the history of the two women after they survive among the natives of the region. Deliverance learns the ways of the medicine woman of the tribe, and at the outset of the story, both now living in at a small farm outside the village, she is called to the bedside of a dying woman. While she struggles to help the woman, Resolve, her daughter is struck by the sudden awareness of some very sinister things, shadows, whispers, and the creeping figure of Abigail Hobbs. Very reminiscent of legendary stories such as The Crucible and The Scarlet Letter.

And not only does she begin to understand the whispers of witchcraft in the village, and the wildness of Abigail Hobbs, but she also begins to understand her own uniqueness. For the most part, she and her mother are shunned by the community, even as they need her mother's skills as a healer. And Resolve's closest friend, Judah, starts to lean more towards the village's opinion of them for her own selfish reasons. In the midst of all this rising fog of suspicion cast against Resolve and her mother, the villager's fear of the natives (who are, in reality, a very peaceful people) grows stronger. War is almost certain. Fear and death are guaranteed.

I fear it is a truth that there are those who see calamity as opportunity. In their eyes, when things break there's profit to be made, not in mending the whole, but in selling each piece separate. They're like rats – the greater the panic, the more things are broken, the more bits and pieces there are to scrounge, the fatter they become.”

Yet, the story, which follows Resolve as she grows in maturity and understanding of herself and others, following her own path and visions which loom before her, the friendships she strikes with Abigail and with Abigail's brother, Thaddeus, are unexpected yet necessary, and ultimately lead the reader to the understanding that their journey will lead them to Salem... the place of the witch trials.

This review is not enough to remark on this astounding, dazzling, and immersive work of pure literary genius. The author takes a reader on an explosively emotive and poetic path full of incredible characters and fantastic world-building. Lucretia Grindle is a master storyteller and this reviewer is waiting with baited breath for the sequel of this sensational book. Once upon a time, most people might think of Abigail Williams from the Crucible as the foremost character in the much-told tales of Salem and the surrounding areas, but now, with this book, Resolve's name, as well as Abigail Hobbs, are two which will go down in historical fiction legend as ones a reader will remember long after the last page is turned. Without a doubt, the very first line... the very first paragraph... all the way to the last two words of the book will send shivers down your arms.

Sometimes I think this whole new world we say we are building here is afraid. Many claim their god gives them strength. But I think the Puritan god is a god of fear. That is the currency he and those who follow him deal in. And dealing in it, as all good traders do, they create and multiply their coin. So dread begets dread. It is a circle. Or rather a whirlpool. Like those that spin in the sea, waiting to such under any ship that sails too close.”


The Devil's Glove” by Lucretia Grindle receives five stars and the “Highly Recommended” award of excellence from The Historical Fiction Company



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