Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Sacrifice

The Sacrifice

Kathleen Benner Duble
Historical Fiction
For ages 12 and up
Simon and Schuster, 1971   ISBN: 978-0689876516

Abigail is very upset, and sore, because she has had to spend a few hours in the stocks for running and showing her ankles in public. But this indignity is soon forgotten when her grandfather comes around to tell her family that some young girls in Salem are accusing people in their village of being witches. Her grandfather does not believe that the girls really can see witches and he worries about what will happen if their ways spread to their village of Andover.

Abigail, her parents, and her siblings are horrified when the elders in Andover decide to ask the Salem witch finders to come to their village to do their work there. Soon the whole village is lined up and to Abigail's horror her aunt Elizabeth, the kindest and most loving of people, is picked out. Helplessly Abigail watches as her aunt is taken away to be locked up in the horrible prison in Salem.

Abigail's family now know that no one is safe. They worry because Abigail's father is prone to having fits. Will the witch hunters think that he is under the influence of the devil? As it happens Abigail's father is left alone but Abigail and her sister Dorothy are not. Soon after Aunt Elizabeth is arrested, Abigail and Dorothy are also taken away, accused by the family's former maid.

The prison which they are taken to is frightful and even though their family pays for food for them, the girls' situation is very dire indeed. Poor Aunt Elizabeth is in a bad way but she does what she can to comfort her nieces, showing them what they need to do to survive in the prison. Unfortunately poor Aunt Elizabeth dies and the sisters are alone. For a time Abigail loses all hope and her courage abandons her. Then her strong and determined mother comes to visit her daughters and she tells the girls about a plan which the family hopes will get them out of the prison. Abigail does not like the plan at all but she is persuaded to go along with it. Can she really bear to do what her mother is asking of her?

This remarkable tale is based on the true story of the Faulkner family who really lived in Andover at the time of the Salem witch hysteria, and who just happened to be the author's ancestors. Not only does the author tell a riveting and sometimes disturbing story, but she also includes a section at the back of the book which provides the reader with further information about what really took place in Andover in 1692 and how the Faulkner family was affected by the events that were taking place in Salem. Readers will see how easy it was for superstitious people to get caught up by what was taking place around them and how other communities around Salem were seriously affected by the witch hunts.