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Dorcas Good, The Diary of a Salem Witch Paperback – April 2, 2000


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 376 pages
  • Publisher: Pendleton Books; 1st Pbk. Ed edition (April 2, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1893221024
  • ISBN-13: 978-1893221024
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,259,796 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Among those accused of witchcraft in Salem Village in 1692 was four-year-old Dorcas Good, whose mother, Sarah, was among the first women tried and hung as a witch. Earhart shapes her novel as a diary of remembrance written by the adult Dorcas, traumatized by abuse but surviving against impossible odds. Her alcoholic father appears as a consummate villain, refusing to support his family, denouncing his wife as a witch, and abusing Dorcas sexually and physically from the time she is a toddler. He eventually secures her release from jail, primarily to sell her sexual services to others. In fact, many men in Dorcas's world are sadistic, sex-obsessed women-haters. Only Jack Quelch, a pirate, makes futile attempts to rescue her. Since the story is told by a victim, no explanations are offered for the hysteria that gripped the community and sent many innocent people to their deaths. Earhart includes photos of Salem locations mentioned in the book as well as a bibliography. This chilling fictional account will send readers searching for additional information about the frenzy that gripped New England 300 years ago.DKathy Piehl, Minnesota State Univ., Mankato
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Fiction shines a new light on the Salem witch trials, as seen through the eyes of an accused four-year-old child whose eight-month imprisonment drives her mad. That much is history, as is the hanging of Dorcas' mother, Sarah Good, as a witch. But in this fictional diary (supplemented by photographs of sites in Salem Village and a two-page bibliography), the emphasis is less on the five young female accusers, many described as living in servitude themselves, than on the rest of the town and particularly its men. Here William Good is a violent good-for-nothing who beats his wife, Sarah, and daughter, Dorcas, then sexually molests the child and sells her into prostitution. Jailers force themselves on Dorcas and other female prisoners, and even the best of men speak lightly of not minding having mothers-in-law accused of witchcraft. Only two fictitious men--a kind jailer who pledges his troth to Sarah and a dashing pirate who tries to save Dorm--redeem their gender. This story of a child who suffers unspeakable cruelty and deprivation, relieved only by her inner life, makes history live. Michele Leber
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Customer Reviews

3.1 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Kcpeyton on October 5, 2006
I knew this was a fictionalization, but I assumed that it would be historically accurate. The true story of Dorcas Good and the other innocents accused of witchcraft, tortured, and executed is facinating and horrible enough. But was Dorcas actually raped by her father? Offered by him to the the entire village as a child prostitute? I don't know, but it seems really, really unlikely, and therefore awfully inappropriate to have portrayed Dorcas as a victim of child sexual abuse. I was disturbed by the extreme explicit nature and abundace of sexual perversion, but even more disturbed by the violation of history this represents. It's just not ok to take historical figures and make up stories with them. If I'm wrong, and if there is documentation that William Good was a pedophile, and if there were additional numerous pedophiles also raping Dorcas, could someone direct me to it?

The typos, as mentioned by other reviewers, are abundant, and the book suffers for it. The publisher absolutely must hire competent copyeditors and proofreaders. Pendleton should be embarrassed by the state of this product.

The writing itself can be absorbing sometimes, but the structure the author chose is a shame: the journal entries are not at all believable. For example, it is known that Dorcas Good was deeply disturbed and would not likely have had the psychological insights the journals imply.

I also did not like the portrayal of Dorcas and Sarah as being actual witches, having supernatural instincts, etc. The women and men accused of witchcraft were most probably sincere, practicing Christians, and to re-interpret them as being actual witches is yet another violation of history.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on February 16, 2006
Well, I would give the actual story a 5 on a scale from 1-10. But considering content... I am 14 years old, and I definitely wouldn't reccomend it to ANYONE under my age, and only a few my age and older.

The plot is okay, it is very moving at times, but with the very graphic sexual scenes and the deaths some might call "scary", it's not appropriate for anyone 13 and younger. Heck, it even grossed me out. Advice: if you can handle sexual descriptions several times, disgustingly graphic hangings, and prostitution, this book is for you. Otherwise, don't even pick it up. PLEASE save yourself from the therapy that I will probably have to go through now that I've finished it.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 31, 2003
Purely on a factual basis - the tale of Dorcas Good, a 4 year old driven to insanity by being incarcerated in a dungeon with no light, separated from her mother - would be a good starting point for a novel if kept within reasonable bounds. This book doesn't do that and shames both the author and the memory of a tragically sad little girl.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 13, 2001
I agree with the commenter from Utah. The details of abuse were so overdone as to be tedious, never mind that the writer didn't really deal with a good number of the physical ramifications of what she described. The book rambles, and has a goppy, riteous tone to it reminiscent of a Harlequin romance. It does, indeed have numerous and glaring editing errors. It wanders into the realm of New Age philosophy without adding anything meaningful to the topic or even making good use of the subject matter. I felt rather like I was reading the equivalent of a Maury Povich cover of the witch trials. The trials are certainly worthy of review, and could be the basis for some great fiction that attempts to "fill in the gaps" of what we know. This book just isn't up to the task.
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful By D. Johnston on August 5, 2001
Recently we have seen some fine novels that take as their protagonist some peripheral character from either history or a classic work of fiction. This is not one of those. Yes, it does describe fairly accurately the personal and political enmities abounding in Salem in the 1690s; its historical details of names and fates are true; and it quotes accurately from available documents. But its virtues end there. The narrator's voice is not that of the four-year-old she is supposed to be. The story is full of gratuitous ... violence, which in itself is tiresome, but when committed against a four-year-old should offend anyone with either feeling or literary taste. As noted by others, the typographical errors are egregious; I have never seen its equal in any professional publication. Basically, this book is a strange combination of scholarship and ..., with an emphasis on "...." If you want to read something worthwhile about the Salem witch trials, try "A Delusion of Satan," by Frances Hill (credited and even thanked with the author's name misspelled in "Dorcas Good").
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10 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Erin Melyssa Boggs on April 22, 2003
Rose Earhart's Dorcas Good, the Diary of a Salem Witch is on any scale the worst book I've ever read. The historical fiction is supposed to be in diary form, told from the perspective of four year old Dorcas Good. There are several problems with this. For one thing, I doubt that a four year old girl living now could read and write well enough to keep a diary, let alone a four year old girl in 1692. Even if she could, most diarists write about feelings and observations . . . not pages upon pages of dialogue. Also, a four year old would probably not be able to understand the political background of every one of her neighbors. Certainly a four year old girl would not refer to a nine year old as "little," but the narrator of this book repeatedly calls Betty Parris "little Betty Parris." The novel is unnecessarily and overwhelmingly perverse. One of the most ridiculous aspect of the novel is that it is written in modern language. I cannot, in two pages, possibly describe exactly how much I hate this 376-page waste of paper, but at least I will try.
The novel lacks structure. As if the author sat at her typewriter once a week, feverishly typing whatever meaningless phrase that popped in her head, the book lacks a comprehensible plot. There are no high points and low points; there is no climax.
By reading Dorcas Good, the Diary of a Salem Witch, one would think that every man is a child molester. Four year old Dorcas is violently raped, not only by her father, but by every man in town. Every reverend, every merchant, every sea-man and politician is a lecherous pedophile who wants nothing more than to stick his penis in a baby. William Good, Reverend Nicholas Noyes and Thomas Putnam are only a few of the innumerable child molesters in this trashy novel.
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