Book Review: The Witch of Blackbird Pond (Elizabeth George Speare)
“There is no escape if love is not there”
— The Witch of Blackbird Pond, by Elizabeth George Speare
I enjoy most books I read. But when I read a book straight through without stopping once and cannot for the life of me pull myself out of it until I’m done. . . that’s a whole new level of appreciation.
The historical-fiction The Witch of Blackbird Pond, by Elizabeth George Speare, is one of the latter.
Sixteen-year-old Kit Tyler is marked by suspicion and disapproval from the moment she arrives on the unfamiliar shores of colonial Connecticut in 1687.
Alone and desperate, she has been forced to leave her beloved home on the island of Barbados and join a family she has never met. Torn between her quest for belonging and her desire to be true to herself, Kit struggles to survive in a hostile place.
Just when it seems she must give up, she finds a kindred spirit. But Kit’s friendship with Hannah Tupper, believed by the colonists to be a witch, proves more taboo than she could have imagined and ultimately forces Kit to choose between her heart and her duty.
Plot — ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
It’s not the most action-filled book, but the genre doesn’t always lend itself to be. Nevertheless, I felt like every scene had a purpose, and the flow was logical. The plot wasn’t my favorite part about this book, but it certainly gave the rest of the story a strong foundation to stand on.
Characters — ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Five stars. Very much five stars. The characters were all so real, which wasn’t always a comfortable feeling. Elizabeth George Speare presented her characters and showed their character arcs and struggles in such a masterful way that I was in awe.
Kit, the main character, was the one I became attached to the most quickly and the strongest. Her unquenchable spirit and sly humor were a joy to read, and the layers of grief and confusion turned her into a fully rounded character who feels like a friend.
Pacing — ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
As I mentioned above, every single scene feels like it has a reason, and the character development and relationships are so fluid that it perfectly fits C. S. Lewis’ quote of “Isn’t it funny how day to day nothing changes but when you look back everything is different?”
Nevertheless, despite the subtle changes and character arcs, I never once grew bored reading this book and somehow remained fixed in Kit’s world from the first page until long after the last.
Worldbuilding and Setting — ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
As this is historical fiction, Elizabeth George Speare had her work cut out for her. While I can’t personally validate her setting since I haven’t done much research on the time frame, the setting felt frighteningly real at times, and it was a good reminder knowing that I could technically stop reading at any time (though the intrigue made that a little tricky).
While I didn’t love the prose, it did its job. Elizabeth George Speare emerged from a time when writing wasn’t necessarily as strong, and the standards writers were held against as far as prose weren’t as high. Nevertheless, the prose didn’t do anything to hinder the flow of the story; it just didn’t do much to help it.
Kit’s determination, Nat’s faith in his friends, and Hannah’s encouragement were so wholesome and uplifting and are probably one of my favorite parts about this book, second only to the character. I’d be comfortable handing this book to a pre-teen, though I doubt many of them would be much interested. The interest level and the comparability level aren’t perfectly lined up.
The Witch of Blackbird Pond is a gem, and I read it in one day the first time and many times since.
It doesn’t have the fastest of starts, but to the reader who is willing to stick through the first couple chapters and to travel along with Kit will be well-rewarded for their time.
Have you ever heard of this book before? What’s your favorite part about historical fiction?