This is not my first encounter with Heather B. Moore. I have read two other historical fiction books of hers and had really enjoyed them. When I saw that she had another book up for review on ebooksforreview.com, I was faster than a bullet to get signed up.
Condemn Me Not is based on real events and people. The main character just happened to be the 10th great-grandmother of the author on her father's side. Yes, Heather B. Moore's great-grandmother was one of those that got accused and hanged for witchcraft in Salem, Massachusetts in 1692. This book felt very close to home to the author. It's not everyday that you get to write and talk about a subject, much more a relative, who went through something so controversial and with a lot of mystery surrounding it.
I applaud the author for writing about Susannah North Martin's life story. What made me so curious right after reading the first page of this book was that this was a real event. This was like reading an article on a newspaper. This is about a real person who went through hell and never survived it. I have heard stories about the Salem witch trials. I even read about one version that explained the possessions and bewitching caused by a fungus found on the food eaten by the girls that claimed to have been possessed. And then, there were other versions, too. As far as I know, the versions were mostly pointing more to the allegation that there were really women in Massachusetts that dabble in witchcraft and ways of the devil. I have watched movies of the same subject also. But what set this book apart from all those mentioned is that this was written by someone related to one of the accused. Well, a few generations removed but nevertheless I have never heard of any accounts of the stories of the persons personally accused of the said crimes. This story is as close as to the horse's mouth as we can get. The author made extensive researched to get to know her descendant and to understand the controversies surrounding her life and death. This also exposed the horrors and cruelties suffered by the accused parties while being held in their filthy cells waiting for their trials.
I think people have a lot of opinions regarding the Salem witch trials. Some people may believe that those hanged were guilty, others would say they were victims. I personally do not believe them guilty or not. I know for a fact those trials and hanging happened but there were a lot of circumstances and events that were not known. I think there was a monopoly of information. There was more that condemn those that were accused than those that seek to shed light on the circumstances and understand. And having only a few references that contain accounts of those found guilty to go by, there is a possibility that those trials were actually done because of personal vendetta. After reading this, I am more inclined to believe that those people hanged might just have been innocent. One other thing about this story is ,as the author intended, this was about the life, family and circumstances of Susannah North Martin and some of the people hanged. It did not really focus on the trials but on the kind of life lived by Susannah--that she was a good sister, a caring mother and grandmother loved by her family, a loyal and dedicated wife that had a loving and faithful husband and a love that survived even after death.
I give this book 4/5 mandrake roots. This was a refreshing other-side-of-the-coin story. The fact that this is my first time to read about accounts of those hanged for being a witch made this even more a must-read. This was so brave of the author to admit to be a descendant of one of those guilty in the Salem witch hunt trials. Surely, your great-grandmother, Susannah North Martin, is so proud of you for telling everyone her story. I condemn you not, or even Susannah and the rest.
If you lie and accuse another of witchcraft, you are exonerated. If you tell the truth, you are imprisoned.
- Heather B. Moore, Condemn Me Not -
It was unfortunate that I was not able to read this in time for the deadline of the review. This review was supposed to be out last April 1. I apologize to Kathy of ebooksforreview.com for the delay and for not being able to give you a heads-up. I was running some errands these past few days, was home late in the evenings and had no energy left but sleep. I assure you this will not happen again. Thank you again for allowing me to review this book.