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Reviewed by Melissa Tanaka for Readers' Favorite
I have a strong love for historical fiction, and so I was incredibly excited to read Lies: Ann Putnam Jr’s Recounting of the Salem Witch Trials by Oliver Dahl. The novel focuses on the village of Salem, Massachusetts and the witch trials for which they are so known from the point of view of young Ann Putnam Jr. In the small village of Salem, two girls fall into violent fits that have no apparent cause. The eventual diagnosis is witchcraft and, when Tituba reveals there are other witches in town, Ann takes it upon herself to fake being cursed and begins accusing those she suspects of witchcraft. Her father discovers her lie, but rather than have her end her false enchantment, he feeds her the names of his enemies and forces her to identify them as witches. Throughout the course of the novel, Ann changes from a naïve young girl who attempts to do the right thing, to vicious and power-hungry, eagerly awaiting the trials and hangings of the innocents she accused.
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel as it immediately grabs your attention and doesn’t let you go. Dahl paints terrifyingly vivid pictures of the fits and spells of the various girls affected, the heartfelt pleas of the accused, and the abuse that Ann suffers at the hands of her father’s own selfish desires. The first person point of view brings power to the narrative, as readers are able to get inside Ann’s head and understand her fears and motivators, as well as the guilt and callousness that surround her as her lies and their consequences progress further than she ever could have imagined. I was incredibly captivated by the author's writing style and the story he told.