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Book Review: The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare (4/5)

10 Nov

I needed a book for my When Are You Reading? Challenge and this worked out perfectly. 1500-1699 can be really challenging so I was happy to find one that worked out so perfectly. On top of that, it seems this is a classic middle-grade book that I missed out on somehow. It’s nice to have read it now and feel like I’m not missing out.

Cover image via Amazon

The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare

Summary from Amazon:

Sixteen-year-old Kit Tyler is marked by suspicion and disapproval from the moment she arrives on the unfamiliar shores of colonial Connecticut in 1687. Alone and desperate, she has been forced to leave her beloved home on the island of Barbados and join a family she has never met. Torn between her quest for belonging and her desire to be true to herself, Kit struggles to survive in a hostile place. Just when it seems she must give up, she finds a kindred spirit. But Kit’s friendship with Hannah Tupper, believed by the colonists to be a witch, proves more taboo than she could have imagined and ultimately forces Kit to choose between her heart and her duty.

Because I’m such a big fan of historical fiction, one thing that struck me was that this book seemed a bit out of time. I’m thinking specifically of Kit’s upbringing in Barbados which seemed very modern from what I know of the late 1600s. It colored the book for me moving forward from there. I did feel that the Puritan colony in Connecticut was rather well portrayed from my knowledge of history and I found that fascinating.

From what I know, the characters were very true to life for the time. Judith and Aunt Sarah were very lifelike and felt like people you could know in any time period. Kit was very rebellious and ahead of her time which makes it easier for a modern reader to connect with her. I think they were good characters for a MG novel and I liked them a lot.

Mercy was my favorite character and I wanted everything to go well for her. She was so kind and had accepted her station in life tough Kit wanted more for her. She was glad to teach the children how to read and be a help around the house. But the reader wanted her to find love and her arc completed beautifully.

Kit was easy to relate to because she wanted life to be fun and carefree, more like a childhood of modern time. Because she was easy to relate to, the Puritan culture she was in stuck out even more than it would have otherwise and served as a great backdrop to show her struggle to fit in and the strict culture she was living in.

Elizabeth George Speare
Image via Amazon

I thought the ending was very sweet. I liked how William’s allegiance changed and how Kit came to realize that she wanted her freedom and how she could go about that. Mercy’s ending was very fitting for her character. While I figured out how Kit’s story would end about halfway through, these side character arcs were happy surprises.

Kit seemed so oblivious at the beginning of the book that her character was a bit annoying. It was hard for me to like her at first because she seemed to be so flippant and didn’t listen to those around her. She grew on me later, but it didn’t start off well.

My audiobook was read by Mary Beth Hurt and I thought she was wonderful. Her voice for Hannah was wonderful and she gave good weight to the emotions the characters would feel.

Fitting in was hard for Kit. She wanted to blend in with her family, but she was a bit lost on how to do that. The change from her upbringing on a tropical island to Puritan New England was stark and I understand why she struggled. It took her time and she made mistakes. In that time, making a mistake almost cost her her life and freedom. Now, we have more leeway to make mistakes and not have to count on Nat to deliver us from the trial.

Writer’s Takeaway: One thing YA authors struggle with is giving a young adult the agency to make changes in their life due to their age. Setting her story in the late 1600s gave Speare this ability and I think she tackled it well. Historical YA is important because it helps growing minds see what their life could have been like and I think Speare did this very well.

Enjoyable and fun. Four out of Five Stars.

This book fulfills the 1500-1699 time period of the When Are You Reading? Challenge.

Until next time, write on.

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Related Posts: 
The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare | Fill Your Bookshelf 
The Witch of Blackbird Pond, by Elizabeth George Speare | Book Reviews by Kristie 
The Witch of Blackbird Pond- Historical Fiction for Young and Old | Pine Needles and Paper Trails 

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