Monday, 11 February 2013

The Salem Witch Society by K. N. Shields

Published September 1st 2012 by Little, Brown Book Group
ISBN 0751549533 (ISBN13: 9780751549539)

Synopsis: "Two hundred years after the Salem witch trials, a grisly new witch hunt is beginning.

Salem, New England, many dark nights ago. It is a time of spells and shadows, of black magic and blood. And the most famous witch hunt in history is about to begin...

Years later, a young woman is found savagely murdered, a pitchfork thrust through her neck, her body arranged in the shape of a star: the death pose of a witch. Someone - or something - is reviving the terror of the notorious Salem Witch hunts. And only one man - a brilliant, eccentric loner with a dazzling mind and a fascination with witchcraft - can keep the evils of the past at bay.

Rich in history, mystery, and witchcraft, THE SALEM WITCH SOCIETY is a twisting, terrifying thriller - a dark fairy tale for readers who loved A Discovery of Witches and The Interpretation of Murder."

This book wasn't what I expected it to be, although, looking back at the blurb, it does cover everything that it said it would. However it definitely wasn't any sort of fairy tale. At its heart, this is a crime novel where the main characters try to solve a string of murders that seem to have links to witchcraft prosecution.

The main characters were well developed, and I really like the relationship between Perceval Grey and Archie Lean, their conversations sometimes made me chuckle out loud. However the other characters that they came across were not always very clearly defined, which made it difficult to keep track of who they all were.

The investigation aspect of the book was good but again sometimes became confusing, with all of the threads they were following, referring to people that I had forgotten about, and strange references that didn't make any sense to me. I thought the author had over complicated it all really. I appreciate that they wanted to throw in red herrings and false trails, but this bordered on ridiculous at times. The motives behind the murderer also seemed realyl flawed to me and I don't know if that was a deliberate technique to make them look crazy or if the author him/herself got confused confused as to why they were doing it.

I also thought that the witchcraft in the book would be used in different ways, however it is portrayed in such a negative, clinical way that I just didn't really like. Considering how much the Salem Witch Trials are talked about in the book, the author just didn't make them seem real to me, which is ridiculous because that is pretty much the only thing in the book based on reality.

It's a shame really that it wasn't better written overall because the last quarter or so of the book was really good, the author built up the tension really well and it became much more thrilling. I think that this book needed a lot more editing done to it to smooth over the cracks in the story and to make it as fantastic as it could have been, because the idea behind the story was really interesting.

I am going to give it 5 out of 10 because there were moments when it was really good but it needed a lot more detail in places and less detail in others. I probably won't be reading this again.



  2. It's a shame you didn't enjoy it. I hate when a book sounds really promising but then it's just a massive let down! I fancy reading A Discovery of Witches, have you read that?

    1. I know what you mean, it's such a disappointment when that happens. No, I haven't read it yet but it has been on my TBR list for a while now. It does sound good but I might borrow it from the library instead of buying it - just in case! - which will be a bit of a novelty. I really must stop buying books, I have at least two years of reading material in my room that I haven't read yet...


Let me know what you think :)