Please enjoy an exclusive excerpt from Deliverance from Evil.
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From Chapter 11: Salem Village, 1692
Morning daylight and damp spring air came through the windowas the fire blazed brightly. Mistress Putnam held her sewing and pretty, smiling Mercy Lewis worked at her spinning wheel. Only Ann was unoccupied. Her father had told her he had asked the woman to come between ten o’clock and noon. He had also said something else, concerning Mercy, after which Ann had taken the girl outside to the copse. When they came back Mercy’s smile was wider than usual.
White-haired Uncle John Putnam was already here, sitting by the fire with an air of complacency, his hands on his knees. Ann waited for the knock. But there was no knock. Martha Cory opened the door and walked in, her posture defiant, face angry. Thomas Putnam, who had been waiting outside, followed her in.
Martha had known Ann all her life though, since she was still only a child, had scarcely ever talked to her.
“I have been asked to come and see you.”
Ann started screaming. Her hands flew to her throat and the scream turned to choking; her eyes rolled up in her head; her feet twisted so strangely she staggered, tripped, and would have fallen but that Mercy Lewis caught her. Her hands twisted as though palsied and her hips and knees turned in different directions. She called, “Stop it! Martha! Stop it!” By this time her mother too was screaming. Ann hissed, “There’s a yellow bird sucking there, between your fingers!”
Martha Cory held up her hand and, with a mocking expression, rubbed where she was pointing to show this could not be so but Ann ignored her and ran across the room, colliding with a stool, shouting, “I see a spit on the fire with a man on it! Goody Cory, you’re turning the spit!”
Martha laughed, turned, and marched toward the door.
“The girl’s mad. Get her a physician.” Mercy Lewis snatched up a stick and struck at some invisible object on the hearth.
“Martha hit her with a rod!” Ann wailed.
The corporeal Martha turned back to face her. “Just you wait!”
“Get that evil witch out of here!” said John Putnam, standing up.
Thomas pushed Martha toward the door and Mercy shouted, “I won’t! I won’t!” at the invisible object.
“What does she want of you?” John Putnam asked.
Mercy’s hands went to her neck and she ran toward the fire.Thomas and John seized her and sat her down on a chair whileMartha stood in the doorway. Martha left. The chair moved toward the fire as though pulled by invisible hands, as everyone said afterward. No one mentioned that Ann happened to be directly behind it. Mistress Putnam ran out to fetch neighbors. The news of what was happening spread through the village in no time.
Venerable, respected John Putnam corroborated everything Thomas and his wife and daughter said. That afternoon he and Nathaniel Ingersoll rode to Salem to make a formal complaint against Martha Cory to the magistrates.
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Praise for Frances Hill and Deliverance from Evil
"Vivid description gives the feeling that the Salem witch hunt
happened ﬁve minutes ago."—Los Angeles Times
"Re-imagines the superstition and hysteria surrounding the 17th-century Salem witch trials in novelistic form."—USA Today
"Dramatic…[Hill] ﬂeshes out the gaunt records."—John Updike, The New Yorker
“When history makes you week, it is the novelist’s job to give meanting to the tears. Frances Hill has done this. Be as brave as she had been and read this book.”—Sarah Dunant, author of Sacred Hearts
"An entertaining and suspenseful drama [that is] also a cautionary tale for our times."—Boston Globe