Monday, 29 October 2012

Book Review: Salem VI: Rebecca's Rising

Review copy supplied by authors' representative.
Salem VI: Rebecca's Rising
by Jack Heath and John Thompson
Pressque Publishing, LLC
3.5 Stars


Having stepped off the fast track of primetime network television news, John Andrews has chosen a quieter life as editor of Salem News, a small paper in a quiet New England town. Life is perfect until Andrews’ wife is killed in a tragic accident. After several years of trying to numb the pain with alcohol, Andrews is visited by the spirit of a long dead ancestor who opens a door to a shocking family history. After he experiences a surreal glimpse into the past, Andrews must confront the question of whether he is losing his mind or whether for several hundred years his ancestors have been engaged in a secret battle with a coven that worships Satan. Fueled by the need to understand whether his wife's death was really an accident or something far more sinister, Andrews, along with his beautiful assistant editor, risk everything to discover a truth so horrifying it threatens to destroy everything and everyone he knows and loves.


I've always been fascinated by the Salem witch trials after seeing The Crucible, so it wasn't hard to agree to review this one. Rather than go down the route of an action-packed conspiracy thriller, Jack Heath and John Thompson have gone the route of a more character-driven story and as such it stands out much more than just another religious/conspiracy thriller. What made a God-fearing Puritan community turn against their own?

John Andrews escaped a fire at his college dorm, due to hearing the voice of a woman in his head urging him to wake up. Andrews didn't know it, but the fire was the first of many attempts on his life. He is descended from Rebecca Nurse, one of the accused witches hanged at Salem, and also from Ann Putman, one of Rebecca's accusers.

There is a portrait of Rebecca Nurse in the house he inherited from his aunt, and as part of the will, he must agree never to part with it or sell it. John has never liked it, he always thought Rebecca looked very disapproving.

Four years after his wife's death, coming up to Halloween there have been a spate of runaways going missing. John keeps hearing a woman's voice in his head again, and it helps him save a baby. He hears screams coming from a shop called "Wicca Wonders", but no one else seems to hear it. Is he going mad or is something much more sinister going on?

The authors have created a sympathetic character in John Andrews and you are rooting for him as the story unfolds. However, what disappointed me was that we as readers know a lot about the who, where and why, long before John and Amy, his editor figure it out. It would have been more suspenseful for the readers to find out who the 'baddies' are at the same time as John and Amy. There was one of them who was a surprise near the end of the book, so that part was good.

Amy and John share some romance, but it fell flat for me, I didn't get any spark between them at all. The story would have worked just as well if they were investigating things as colleagues without the romance. Contrary to popular belief, some women will read books even if there is no romance in it.

I couldn't tell it was written by two different authors, the scenes blended so well. It's fast-paced and engaging with interesting characters and a different, imaginative, take on the Salem Witch trials.

Reviewed by Annette Gisby

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