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For Young Readers – True ‘Witch-Hunt’ gives you chills

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Posted: November 20, 2006 9:06 a.m.
Updated: December 18, 2006 9:51 a.m.
The witchcraft trials of Salem, Massachusetts, are shrouded in mystery; many details have been lost over time. After all, 1692 was three centuries ago, and documentation of legal proceedings was less than adequate. However, many attempts have been made to string together the details of the witchcraft trials, whether through fiction or fact. The famous drama “The Crucible” by Arthur Miller is one such example, and the story is now the popular version of the Salem witchcraft trials; other works include Ann Rinaldi’s “A Break with Charity,” or, for readers of nonfiction, the more adult  “A Delusion of Satan: The Full Story of the Salem Witch Trials” by Frances Hill.  However, few written works can top Marc Aronson’s “Witch-Hunt: Mysteries of the Salem Witch Trials” for information or intrigue. 
Published in 2003, Witch-Hunt narrates the story of the witchcraft trials with a fluidity rarely seen in nonfiction works, exploring the different people, places, and events related to the witch trials. The Salem stories are told from an omnipresent perspective, letting the reader see every side of an issue. Throughout the book, disturbing questions remain: Were the accused innocent, as they claimed to be? How could the townspeople of Salem suspect their neighbors of such a crime as witchcraft? Witch-Hunt gives no comforting opinions or passages, stating the facts and possibilities with a cold indifference. Young readers looking to be comforted should not read this book. The Salem witch trials resulted in 25 deaths, and how a town could condemn 25 innocents to death due to mere superstition is a question the reader must answer.
The disturbing aura of Witch-Hunt may discourage younger readers, but those who are impervious to a little fear will enjoy an incredible narrative that makes clear one of America’s oldest and foggiest incidents. Useful appendixes give readers other material relating the Salem witch trials; one especially fascinating afterthought compares Arthur Miller’s The Crucible to the actual events of Salem. Witch-Hunt is an irreplaceable addition to any bookcase, and those looking for chills and less sleep at night will be delighted with Marc Aronson’s tome.
  Lindsey and Paige Oliver are  ninth graders at Bulloch Academy. Their book review of a work aimed at readers ages 9-14 appears monthly in the Herald.
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