Monday, December 22, 2014

Wither, by J.G. Passarella. Pocket Books, 1999

Windale, MA, is a quiet little college town in New England- most of the time. Three hundred years before, three witches had been hung. That, Danfield College, and the annual King Frost parade on Halloween night, are its claims to fame. Then odd things start happening; college freshman and white witch Wendy finds one night that the spells she casts have real and sudden results, and she begins having horrific nightmares. Entering the third trimester of what has been a routine pregnancy, college professor Karen discovers that her baby has very severe problems- and she, too, is having nightmares. And eight year old Abby is suddenly ill; when graduate student Art finds her sleeping on one of the hung witch’s graves with a high fever, he goes to take her to the hospital and is attacked by her, which causes an accident that gravely injures her. But she is healing remarkably fast… and the scratches she gave Art by his eye are infected with something that won’t yield to antibiotics. And now there are townspeople going missing and signs of violence during the night. Something bad is going on, and it’ll take more than one person to figure it out.

This is a pretty grim book, and it takes the New England witch story in a new direction; the three executed women are not your average witches, especially Elizabeth Wither. The three plot lines braid together nicely, and the characters are pretty good- not really deep, but good. There is a lot of tension because it looks like no one is going to survive! It reminded me of Buffy the Vampire Slayer in a lot of ways, but without the snappy repartee. I’ll be looking for the other books in the series. 

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