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The Devil's Door: A Salem Witchcraft Story

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The Devil's Door: A Salem Witchcraft Story

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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 4–6—Sarah Wright and her father, Ephraim, escape to Salem after an attack by Wabanaki warriors on their homestead in Maine. They settle there just as the witchcraft trials are beginning. They are lodged at Dr. Griggs's home where Betty Hubbard, one of the accusers, is indentured to her uncle. Sarah becomes an eyewitness to the disturbances caused by the girls, the accusations, hysterical behavior, the trials, and the executions. She is befriended by Abe Toothaker, who fleshes out the theories about witchcraft in their conversations. As the arrests occur, Ephraim is recruited as a constable, only to be accused of witchcraft himself. The third-person narrative reveals Sarah as a reportorial, somewhat apprehensive but empathetic innocent observer. Factual material is incorporated into the narrative, creating a fast-paced, fascinating read.—Kathryn Kosiorek, formerly at Cuyahoga County Public Library, Brooklyn, OH
Children's Literature - Danielle Williams
The unknown is very frightening. When things happen that can't be explained, it is difficult to shrug them off and at times can be difficult to discover an acceptable explanation for the unknown. The witchcraft hysteria that swept through Massachusetts in the late 1600s may seem in retrospect to be influenced by greed and envy, but the beginning of the hysteria was wrapped in something else that will never be completely understood. Sarah and her father are all that remain of their family when they had to flee the Wabanaki attack on their village in Maine. Their escape to Salem should have allowed them to live in peace. Sarah's father works part time for a local doctor, working on his house, but he is an ex-soldier and is soon pressed into service as a constable, arresting those accused of witchcraft and trying his best to keep Sarah away from the hysteria. This well-written story, told from a young girl's perspective, takes the reader deep into the fear and uncertainty that surrounded some of the darkest hours of pre-revolutionary American history. Reviewer: Danielle Williams
VOYA - Kim Carter
The Historical Fiction Adventures series offer "high-interest, fictional stories" featuring key events and time periods. Simon's Escape opens with Simon Gorski jumping on his bed with a friend in the Gorskis' luxurious two-story Warsaw apartment, until they are interrupted by shots and look outside to see Germans soldiers shooting people in the streets. The Germans take over the city, gradually barring Jews from school, work, and ultimately, access to most food. As the Germans tighten their stranglehold, Simon is faced with no choice but to flee the city, meeting both cruelty and unanticipated generosity in his fight to survive. In The Devil's Door, Sarah Wright and her father, Ephraim, flee the fierce attacks of the Wabanaki Indians in Maine, resettling in Salem Village. A former soldier, Ephraim is enlisted to assist with the arrest and transport of those charged as witches, whose numbers seem to grow exponentially day by day. When Ephraim refuses to arrest any more people, he too is charged with witchcraft, and it is up to Sarah to save him. With similar formats, including "The Real History Behind the Story," the books have straightforward, chronological plot lines. Character development is uneven across the books, with Sarah Wright a compelling character, while Simon Gorski is upstaged by the urgency of the unfolding events. Care is taken to offer perspectives of common people who take advantage of the dire events, as well as those who stand against the inhumanities; still, both the Germans and the Wabanaki Indians are portrayed simply as killers. Providing engaging reading for young readers about complex and, at times, frightening historical events is no small task, and both books do an admirable job of presenting numerous details of daily family and community life while portraying threatening, occasionally horrific, and ultimately life-changing events. (Historical Fiction Adventures) Reviewer: Kim Carter
VOYA - Riley Carter
The Devil's Door is very interesting. The story was about many people accused of being witches by a group of girls who were acting strangely and thought to be possessed by the devil. The town held trials and used the girls as witnesses, and they did not tell the truth about the people who were accused. In the end, fourteen girls and six men were hung by ropes to die, and at least five people died in jail. One man was executed by being crushed under rocks. People who like to read mysteries and stories based on the past would like reading this book. (Historical Fiction Adventures) Reviewer: Riley Carter, Teen Reviewer
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781598452143
  • Publisher: Enslow Publishers, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 11/1/2010
  • Series: Historical Fiction Adventures (HFA) Series
  • Pages: 160
  • Age range: 10 - 13 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 0.40 (d)

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  • Posted September 21, 2012

    THE DEVIL'S DOOR After a bloody confrontation with the Wabanaki

    THE DEVIL'S DOOR
    After a bloody confrontation with the Wabanaki Indians, Sarah Wright and her father, Ephraim, flee their home in Maine for a new life in Salem, Massachusetts. But for the Wrights, it's out of the frying pan and into the fire-the hell fire, that is. Hysteria, hallucinations and uncontrolled outbursts plague the young girls of Salem. Surely the devil and his army of witches are to blame for their afflictions. Paranoia spreads. Accusations fly. Neighbor after neighbor is arrested, tried and executed for witchcraft. When the finger is pointed at Ephraim, Sarah must race to save her father from the noose.

    THE DEVIL'S DOOR is set during the Salem Witch Trials of the late 1600s. The plot is fast paced. Along with the historical details of the trials, this well-researched novel provides many interesting details about the day to day lives of the people in Salem--games they played, prison conditions, living arrangements. Recommended for grades 3-6. Enslow provided me with a complimentary copy of the book to review. ISBN-13: 978-59845-214-3.

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