Review of The Devil’s Playground by Heather Eager

The Devil’s Playground
Heather Eager

Elizabeth Winters lives in Salem Village in Massachusetts Bay Colony in the year 1692, the year
of the infamous Salem Witch Trials during which twenty-four people were slaughtered in the
Puritan community on suspicion of, and fear of, witchcraft.  Elizabeth is a witch, who, at sixteen
years of age hasn’t a clue about her powers.  What she knows is that her father is a wizard in
hiding from persecution endured in Europe and that her family members are refugees living
among the Puritans in Salem Village.

Be that as it may, Elizabeth is curious about her powers and experiments with them even when it
seems her only magical talent is starting fires accidentally. Faced with Elizabeth’s curiosity, her
father begins to teach her how to control her magic by controlling her emotions. However, she is
young, with strong uncontrollable emotions, and has a jealous younger sister named Anna who
wants magical powers but does not have them. When another mysterious witch stirs fear of witch
craft in Salem causing innocent people to be killed, Elizabeth is outraged.  She protests loudly
and directly and engages in a contest of wills with Reverend Parris, the Village Pastor and Judge
Hathorne who has been commissioned to rid Salem of witches. Unfortunately, her knowledge of
her powers and her ability to control her emotions are no match for her anger and zeal to protect
the innocent.  What follows forces Elizabeth to face her fears and her immaturity as she
confronts Parris and Hathorne, and more importantly, confronts a stronger witch who is causing
the problems; a person that in her wildest dreams she would never have recognized as a witch.

This is an awesome story about a teenage girl growing up and taking on responsibility for her
family and her community. It highlights the ignorance and paranoia common in that community
in that age, but it has implications in any place or time in which young people must grow into
responsible adults and face down ignorance and persecution of others. The characters are
believable each with their private thoughts and motivations, fears and envy, and each knowing
they put those emotions aside for the greater good.
This story should appeal to a wide range of readers from fantasy enthusiasts to every school girl
struggling to deal with real world realities.

5-stars Clabe Polk

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