From School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up-Elsabeth James is a teenager in 1690s England, the daughter of a scientist who through research and investigation tries to find the scientific explanation of the supernatural ability his daughter possesses. She exhibits clairvoyant powers much like her grandmother and great-grandmother, who were persecuted as witches. Wanting to avoid this fate, he and his family set off for America, only to encounter turbulent travels resulting in a shipwreck. Elsabeth is washed ashore on an island off the coast of South Carolina during the heat of summer. She is nurtured back to health by its inhabitants, slaves from Africa who are on their own during the hottest months. She falls in love with Aakif, but upon the return of the plantation owner, she is sent away to Salem, Massachusetts, to be an indentured servant for Reverend Parris. On the boat, Elsabeth discovers that her governess also survived the shipwreck and is onboard in a coma. She feels that Bronwyn's spirit has been lost and in trying to help her, evil is unleashed on Salem. An increase of supernatural events leads to the arrest of many young women accused of witchcraft, including Elsabeth. She must find a way out before more young girls lose their lives. Several historical figures are introduced, but without an author's note it is difficult to distinguish fact from fiction. Readers with a background in the time period will appreciate more fully the racial boundaries involved as well as the facts and theories involving microbiology to partially explain the supernatural. Although the historical aspects of the novel are not clarified, readers can enjoy it as a paranormal adventure.-Denise Moore, O'Gorman Junior High School, Sioux Falls, SDα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Like her ancestors, Elsabeth can read people’s thoughts and see images that others cannot. The power is so dangerous, her scientist father warns, that it must be kept secret in a world that views the psychic realm as witchcraft. When they set out to the New World in 1690 so Father can conduct further research on clairvoyance, they sail right into a perfect storm that culminates in the Salem maelstrom of 1692. Elsabeth’s strength of spirit in the face of despair will touch readers, and Weyn’s deft, lively writing makes for a suspenseful read. Shipwreck, survival in a floating barrel, a landing at a South Carolina island slave colony, and eventual relocation to Salem as a servant—the story spirals toward the sadly inevitable witchcraft trial. The kind boy she meets when first shipwrecked captures her heart, and their relationship adds a love story to the historical mix. The rather miraculous ending is tad kumbaya, but paranormal genre fans especially will appreciate the dark action and adventure. Grades 6-9. --Anne OMalley