Father of Lies

( 3 )


Truth or Lies?

Lidda knew, with a clarity that was like a candle in a dark room, that all had changed; something was loosed in the village—Devil or not—and they would pay for it, every last man, woman, and child.

Fourteen-year-old Lidda has always known she was different. She longs to escape Salem Village and its stifling rules—to be free to dance, to sing, to live as she chooses. But when a plague of accusations descends on the village and ...

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Truth or Lies?

Lidda knew, with a clarity that was like a candle in a dark room, that all had changed; something was loosed in the village—Devil or not—and they would pay for it, every last man, woman, and child.

Fourteen-year-old Lidda has always known she was different. She longs to escape Salem Village and its stifling rules—to be free to dance, to sing, to live as she chooses. But when a plague of accusations descends on the village and witch fever erupts, L idda begins to realize that she feels and sees things that others can't, or won't. But how will she expose the truth without being hung as a witch herself?

Gripping and emotional, Ann Turner's retelling of the Salem witch trials captures one girl's brave soul-searching amidst a backdrop of fear and blame.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Turner (Hard Hit) takes readers inside the fascinating but disturbing mind of 14-year-old Lidda, who, during the Salem witch trials, experiences vivid hallucinations that have her wondering if she might be a witch herself. Lidda's thoughts are constantly plagued by the haughty, chiding voice of Lucian, who spouts condescending, sometimes derisive directives such as, "I deal in truth and lies, and to you I give the wit to tell the difference." Readers are left to ponder if Lucian is Lidda's subconscious or a symptom of mental illness, especially when his abrupt disappearance midstory leaves Lidda outwardly mute and inwardly despairing. While Lidda struggles with her mental stability, the town of Salem Village has its own troubles: namely the alarming period of "witch fever" for which it is infamous. Turner portrays the girls' afflictions as plotted and staged, leaving readers aghast that innocent men and women were imprisoned or hanged after being accused of witchcraft. The ending, like history, leaves many questions unanswered, but Lidda's story and her final courageous stand against injustice are highly satisfying. Ages 12–up. (Feb.)
VOYA - Michelle Young
In 1692, respectable girls in Salem Village cannot play shuffleboard, drink hard cider, or do anything else Lidda considers fun. So when Lidda starts seeing—and hearing—a shadowy man named Lucian, she is intrigued by his sinuous whispers and amused by his remarks about other villagers (which make her giggle in church, to the consternation of her family). In spite of her fears that Lucian is claiming her body and possibly her soul, Lidda enjoys her secret companion. Meanwhile, a group of girls led by Ann Putnam is feigning crazed fits and accusing women of being witches. The entire village witnesses the manipulated trials of the accused, which occur amid shrieking spectacles choreographed by Miss Putnam. Though Lidda recognizes that the girls are telling lies that are destroying innocent lives, she struggles to speak the truth that could save others—and condemn herself. This evenly-paced story transports the reader to the hysteria of the Salem witch trials through the unique perspective of a fourteen-year-old girl suffering from bipolar disorder. The author leaves ambiguity as to whether Lucian is a figment of Lidda's imagination or the devil himself. The story, however, suggests that the true evil is in the capricious lies of the accusers who seem motivated by petty revenge and a craving for attention. Though Lidda and her family are fictional inventions, other characters and events are inspired by historical fact. The prose in Father of Lies is marked by gorgeous, color-focused imagery, making it a pleasure to read. Reviewer: Michelle Young
School Library Journal
Gr 7–10—In Salem Village in the late 1600s, just as historical townsfolk including Goody Nurse, Tituba, and John Hathorne are finding themselves on one side or the other of accusations of witchcraft, Lidda Johnson is in a tricky situation. The 14-year-old child in a family that ranges from a nursing infant to a bearded, pipe-smoking older brother, she has lately been hearing voices and now begins to see an apparition. He introduces himself as Lucian and gently (and sometimes not so gently) mocks the schoolmates and neighbors who fling about accusations of devilry. Lidda's older sister doesn't have much patience with the protagonist's oddities, though her younger sister senses that something is wrong. Unlike the adults in Salem and Boston, Lidda sees through the attention-seeking antics of those she comes to think of as "the murder girls." Her efforts to force the truth to light eventually render her mute. The issue of loss of control is central to the story, whether it is Lidda refusing to control her body with stays or trying to control her thoughts when she hears Lucian's voice in her head. Turner's writing smoothly portrays the cold New England countryside and the isolation Lidda feels as she attempts to keep her hallucinations a secret. While the story covers the same ground as Stephanie Hemphill's Wicked Girls (HarperCollins, 2010) and Arthur Miller's The Crucible, Lidda's perspective as a doubting observer gives it a different twist. Endnotes about bipolar disorder direct readers toward that explanation for Lidda's sensory experiences, and historical notes are included.—Maggie Knapp, Trinity Valley School, Fort Worth, TX
Kirkus Reviews

Salem Village is a vividly cold and scary place, her neighbors a constant threat as 14-year-old Lidda struggles to silence the seductive, sometimes frightening voice that dominates her thoughts. Calling himself "Lucian, light bringer," the voice implies that she alone has the power to end the madness afflicting some of the town's youth. At first believing that the witch-accusers must also hear Lucian, Lidda begins to recognize the heartless lies behind their destructive behavior. Her family divides over Lidda's increasing inability to cope; while shallow sister Susannah sides with the afflicted girls, the rest of Lidda's relatives offer much-needed support. Turner perfectly captures the nightmare nature of Salem's witchcraft period and of some of the outside forces that may have fueled it without ever diminishing the strength and humanity of those who distrusted and refused to support the reign of terror. Yet the town's issues play a secondary role to Lidda's own believable struggles with encroaching insanity—or an otherworldly paranormal force: an appraisal left for engaged readers to make. (Historical fiction. 11 & up)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061370854
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 2/8/2011
  • Pages: 247
  • Sales rank: 1,003,480
  • Age range: 13 - 17 Years
  • Lexile: 860L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 7.20 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Ann Turner is the author of many acclaimed novels, picture books, and poetry collections, among them the novel A Hunter Comes Home, an ALA Notable Children's Book; Rosemary's Witch, a School Library Journal Best Book; and her two poetry books, A Lion's Hunger and Learning to Swim, both ALA Best Books for Young Adults. Ann Turner's historical picture books include Abe Lincoln Remembers, an NCSS/CBC Notable Children's Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies; When Mr. Jefferson Came to Philadelphia; Drummer Boy; and Nettie's Trip South. Among her other picture books are Through Moon and Stars and Night Skies, a Reading Rainbow selection, and Dakota Dugout, an ALA Notable Children's Book. Ms. Turner lives in Williamsburg, Massachusetts, with her husband and two children.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 6, 2011

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    Reviewed by Ashley B for Teens Read Too

    Lidda lives in Salem Village with her family. She is different; she knows this, and so does everyone around her. She wishes of doing things that others have never dreamt of. She wants to dance and sing and fly with the birds. Her family just thinks she is crazy - maybe she will grow out of it. And then there is talk around the village that the Devil has come. Witch fever. Lidda doesn't believe any of it. And she has prove that these girls and their accusations are false. But if she speaks out, who knows what would happen to her. I find the Salem Witch Trials to be a very interesting subject. I really enjoyed FATHER OF LIES because that was the topic. Though it was a little slow throughout, it kept a spark of interest for me, which made me continue reading. Lidda was a very interesting character, though very strange, as well. After the end of the book, Ann Turner writes about Bipolar Disorder, along with a few other things pertaining to the story, which I thought made the tale seem way more "real" after reading.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 7, 2011

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    Father of Lies

    FATHER OF LIES, by Ann Turner dives into the time of the Salem Witch Trials and the hardships that every man, woman and child had to experience. I was almost instantly sucked in and it was hard to put down.

    I have never read anything, other than textbooks about the Salem Witch Trials. I have been to Salem, and seen all the witch houses but reading this book I really felt like I was there. Turner uses subtle details that set the scene perfectly. I could feel the setting around me like I was standing in these cold houses doing mundane chores.

    The presence of Lucian was almost creepy to me and kind of confusing. I had more questions about him than answers. I almost wish there had been more information about him.

    Reading this, I found that I could relate to Lidda, the MC, hugely. She is a dreamer, very easily distracted by anything that is more interesting than what she's doing. She wants to dance, sing and be free of the duties that are required by her. And her courage to expose the truth, no matter the cost had me smiling like a dork. This is a quick read, with the historical background and days after finishing it, I am still thinking about it.

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  • Posted January 23, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A great Salem Witch trial read!

    On the outside, Lidda appears to be normal. She tends to her baby brother Thomas and does chores with her sisters Charity and Susannah. On the inside, however, she is an absolute mess. After recently going through puberty, she begins hearing a voice speaking to her in her head. Terrified at first, she thinks this is the work of the Devil himself. But the voice calls himself Lucian, and he is both seductive and powerful. Then strange things begin to happen to other girls in her village. They have weird fits and point to various others as being witches. With the whole town in rising chaos, Lidda has to figure out who she is before it's too late.

    From the very first page this book is interesting. I have not read much on the Salem Witch trials since The Crucible in 11th grade English class, so I was both hesitant and excited to pick up this book. Lidda's thoughts are so well-written that even I felt raw with confusion and frustration. Reading on inside her head was deliciously claustrophobic as Lidda figures out what is happening around her. There isn't much to say about supporting characters, and Lidda literally hogs all the attention. Which is okay, ultimately, as it helps to preserve her innocence in the story. My only complaint would be that it's a fairly short book for such a large topic. I would have liked a few more chapters, at least. At times genuinely spooky, Ann Turner delivers a top-notch story of the Salem Witch trials.

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