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4.3 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews

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Length: 456 pages

A Criminal Magic by Lee Kelly
"A Criminal Magic" by Lee Kelly
THE NIGHT CIRCUS meets THE PEAKY BLINDERS in Lee Kelly's new magical realism, crossover novel and casts a spell of magic, high stakes and intrigue against the backdrop of a very different Roaring Twenties. Learn more

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Editorial Reviews


"Witten's moving novel is a bold attempt to give an old story a new and more authentic rationale."--Lancashire Evening Post
"A well-researched look at what led Salem to hysteria."--Erika Mailman, Author of "The Witch's Trinity"
"A page-turning twist of a tale. Highly recommended!"--Layers of Thought

Product Details

  • File Size: 573 KB
  • Print Length: 456 pages
  • Publisher: DREAMWAND (November 20, 2009)
  • Publication Date: November 20, 2009
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0036ZAOCK
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,040,029 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Suzy Witten's career spans twenty years in the entertainment industry: as a novelist, filmmaker, screenwriter, story analyst, and editor for film and television.

A graduate of USC's School of Cinematic Arts, she was nominated for a Women In Film filmmaking award for her theatrical film about teenage runaways in Hollywood, Runaway Eden, for which she also won a Chicago Film Festival Silver Plaque. She was a Walt Disney Studios Fellowship Finalist for her story of Salem.

Besides writing novels, she works as a public affairs media relations specialist, writer and researcher during disasters for FEMA (the U. S. Federal Emergency Management Agency). She is a member of the Historical Novelist Society (HNS) founded in 1997, which promotes all aspects of historical fiction.

She resides in Los Angeles. THE AFFLICTED GIRLS is her first novel.


(Independent Publisher Book Awards honor the year's best books from Independent Publishers, Small Presses and University Presses in North America.)


Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The synopsis sounded good... I'd just like to know, who wrote the synopsis? 'Cause that was much, much better than the actual story. The story seemed grossly unedited - with grammar, punctuation and blatant spelling errors. I do believe this has the most errors in any book I've EVER read.

My opinion is that it was heavy on the fiction (with inexplicably random, and unbelievable, sex thrown in, I suppose to make it all more interesting?) and very, very light on the history. I finished the book thinking there'd be an epihany (on my part) at the end, but no. I was disappointed. No "startling new theories," no "300-year-old mysteries put to rest," and I certainly didn't feel "expertly guided" as the description promised.
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Format: Paperback
The Afflicted Girls / 978-0-615-32313-8

It is my belief that any historical novel must be subjected to two questions in a review - first, is the material historically accurate, and second, is the material pleasant and engaging to read.

In answer to the first question, as an avid student of the Salem witch trials, I can say that "The Afflicted Girls" is the least historically-accurate Salem artifact I have encountered. Much of the novel feels like a very loose re-write of Arthur Miller's "The Crucible" - popular antagonist Abigail Williams is again given an age upgrade from her historical 11 years of age to a sexually tantalizing 16 years of age so that she can feel up men, rape young boys, and have masturbatory fantasies about her uncle Parris. Major societal details have been changed - far too many of the characters are literate as a plot-device, and pretty much all of the Puritan girls running around Salem are sexually active and without a single thought to accidental pregnancy (some brief mention is made of birth control herbs).

As for the trials, the actual details of the trials have been totally rewritten. The order in which the accused were arrested, tried, and executed is arbitrarily changed. One of the accusing girls - protagonist Mercy Lewis - never actually testifies in court, and her role as accuser, and then accused, and then accuser again is completely rewritten. Several people who were either executed or left in prison until finally bonded out at the end of the trials have now been rescued in a completely narrative-breaking adventure jail-break sequence. This isn't even to mention that the entire novel only covers the events up to and including the first, initial set of hangings - barely a fraction of the Salem story.
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Format: Paperback
First, I have to say that I'm not a big fan of historical fiction. I would rather learn about history by reading straight history. The author sent me a free copy and wanted to know my thoughts because I am the author of a book about the witch trials - Justice At Salem: Reexamining The Witch Trials.

The story was well told and had interesting twists. (Although I was a bit irked by the misrepresentation of Bridget Bishop, especially as I spent so much time in my book correcting the record about her. But mistakes about Bishop are common in a lot of books about Salem.)

I really enjoyed reading the book, even though I would not have otherwise picked it up. It would make a great gift, especially for a girlfriend or any woman interested in this sort of thing. I would not recommend this book to younger children due to some of the more graphic scenes.
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Format: Kindle Edition
The Salem Witch Trials have fascinated people for over 300 years. A frenzy of accusation and executions, followed by recantation and vindication--but much too late. It's the stuff of horror stories.

How could this madness be triggered by the wild accusations of children and adolescents? Oh, so easily. There's always someone who has something to gain...

The author has spun a terrifying tale, drawing us deftly into the minds and hearts of the major characters. Her story makes sense. It could have happened much that way...and it could happen again.

This is not a book for the precious and delicately sensitive. But it is a good read for anyone who can bring an open mind to it, and has a sound grasp of the way society actually functioned at the end of the 17th century. Thoughtless brutality and smug hypocrisy existed--whether you like to read about it or not.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"The Afflicted Girls" is a great story well told, full of compassionate detail. Suzy Witten's prose sometimes stumbles in its earnestness, in her eagerness to paint the scene, but that's a small matter in the end. The narrative is full of historical and emotional detail which impel the reader onward to its conclusion. In its course the story leaps from peak to fervent peak, which resultant tenor wears somewhat when it should thrill. A more measured pace might leave the reader with a deeper and defter impact.
Much of the psychological complexity revealed in many of her characterizations rings true, although the main strokes are broad. That's not necessarily a bad thing. Van Gogh had a heavy hand. The major reservation I have in this regard is with Mercy's nature. I wouldn't expect one who has suffered the extended brutalizations as she to enjoy such a benign personality. I understand the need for a heroine, and was greatly relieved to read her happy ending, but her Buddha-like responses to all that was visited upon her do not ring true. A historical novel should avoid hagiography if it wants to maintain the spell of authenticity over its readers.
My reservations are slight compared with the fine work this novel represents. I think Arthur Miller would have enjoyed it.
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Topic From this Discussion
What do you think happened in Salem in 1692?
I look forward to reading The Afflicted Girls as soon as it comes out for Kindle. It sounds fascinating!
Jan 30, 2010 by Kathryn Sargent |  See all 10 posts
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