Review: Salem’s Vengeance by Aaron Galvin

Salems_VenganceHorror writers invent scenarios to scare us. Readers are delighted to be frightened because the horror to which we willingly subject ourselves is fictional. Evil perpetrated by other humans in our past and present are very real. Aaron Galvin uses the historic Massachusetts witch hysteria in 1692-93 as a prelude to the novel, Salem’s Vengeance.

I took my eReader to the auto shop, intending to kill some time reading while I waited for my repairs. When the attendant called my name to pick up my car, I was shocked. It wasn’t time! I’d only been sitting there reading for a few minutes! No. I’d been there few minutes shy of two and a half hours, completely engrossed in this story.

Sarah Kelly, a sixteen-year-old young woman, joins her friends Emma, Ruth, and Charlotte for a midnight dance under the full moon. She loves the danger of sneaking out of her house, the freedom of dancing with her friends, and the respite from her puritanical father.

This night is different. Other dancers arrive from “the North” and an enigmatic woman called Hecate is officiating. Sarah sees the “strange customs” of the woman at the dance, and watches as Ruth and Charlotte are given a black powder with alarming effects. Sarah doesn’t feel right and resists joining in. Hecate gives Sarah a journal and tells her, “Learn your truth… as I did.” Sarah and Emma flee for home, but events are set in motion for another witchcraft hysteria, this time in their small town of Winford.

Sarah reads the journal, a first-hand account of the events in Salem some 20 years prior. The secrets revealed in the pages, and the madness overtaking Winford threaten to sweep Sarah and her family into another panic.

Salem’s Vengeance is beautifully written. The author did a fine job of evoking 17th-century English usage into a form that recalls the period without making it sound pretentious. Sarah squabbles with siblings, teases her friends and titters at handsome young men in ways perfectly appropriate for a sheltered child of Calvinists.

As for the historical aspects of the story, I didn’t dig too deeply but what I found on a cursory fact-check was accurate in the modern understanding of the witch trials in Massachusetts.

I highly recommend Salem’s Vengeance. If you enjoy YA fiction, or historical fiction, or straight-up horror, you’re going to like this. Danger, mysterious strangers, a touch of romance, thrilling action and gruesome supernatural-inspired horror all combine to make a fantastic read.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of the review. This review originally published at

About S. Kay Nash

S. Kay Nash is a writer, editor, and bibliophile. She lives in Texas with a mad scientist and a peaceful contingent of dogs and cats.
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