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The Fatal Key by Megan Chance
For anyone who likes a Gothic that takes place during the Salem Witch Trials, this should be a good read. It's not quite in the traditional style. The story is told from three different viewpoints: Charity, Lucas and Susannah.

Essentially, the story begins with Susannah arriving in America to visit her sister, Judith, who dies in childbirth. Charity, having been very close to her mother and feeling guilty about her own sins, is lost in her grief and mixes in with the wrong crowd. Her father, Lucas, is a stern, Puritan father who does not realize that his cold attitude drives her further away. Resentment and confusion about good and evil resulting from her relationship to her friends and her Puritan upbringing creates animosity between Charity and Susannah. Meanwhile, an attraction builds up between Susannah and Lucas as political unrest increases in their small village. Soon, Charity and her friends show signs of bewitchment, which leads to several people being named as witches, Susannah included.

The story uses real-life people and events to create a very believable background. You can feel the wave of hysteria and you can sympathize with the few reasonable people who felt helpless against the prevailing superstitions. I found myself saying, "I can't believe these people could have been so stupid!" But when I remembered the strict Puritan beliefs, it made it easier to understand. In addition, political struggles played a big role in these events. I wouldn't mind giving this book an "A".
I tried reading this book once and couldn't get through the first section. I found the characters of Lucas and Susannah implausible, but I'll admit that the book has stayed in my mind ever since. There was something compelling about it...perhaps I'll give it another try.
I have really enjoyed all of her books--there may be one that I haven't read.

Thanks to this, I'm going to reread this one, as my memory of it is a bit sketchy.

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