The following manuscript is made up from a remarkable collection of documents termed ‘the Mary papers’.
Mary doesn’t know her parents, she has lived her life with her grandmother. But in 1659 a witchfinder comes to her village and her grandmother is found guilty of witchcraft, by virtue of the fact that she floats in water, and killed. Mary might be next, but she is rescued by a mysterious, rich, well-dressed woman, and sent across the ocean in the company of some Puritans.
This novel was shortlisted for the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize in 2001, and I can see why. The first person narration, this is Mary’s diary afterall, allows us to see from her point of view. Yet despite this enough mystery remains over whether Mary herself is a witch. She doesn’t even know, not for sure.
But at the same time I was left wondering why exactly the diary format was chosen. A regular first person narration may have worked slightly better in places. But it does allow the author to pretend that this is a true story, so maybe that was the incentive?
Overall, it is a well told entertaining novel. Nothing spectacular, but worth a look.
The story is continued in Sorceress