The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson
Publication Date: 21 July 2020
Genre: Paranormal Historical Fiction
A young woman living in a rigid, puritanical society discovers dark powers within herself in this stunning, feminist fantasy debut.
In the lands of Bethel, where the Prophet’s word is law, Immanuelle Moore’s very existence is blasphemy. Her mother’s union with an outsider of a different race cast her once-proud family into disgrace, so Immanuelle does her best to worship the Father, follow Holy Protocol, and lead a life of submission, devotion, and absolute conformity, like all the other women in the settlement.
But a mishap lures her into the forbidden Darkwood surrounding Bethel, where the first prophet once chased and killed four powerful witches. Their spirits are still lurking there, and they bestow a gift on Immanuelle: the journal of her dead mother, who Immanuelle is shocked to learn once sought sanctuary in the wood.
Fascinated by the secrets in the diary, Immanuelle finds herself struggling to understand how her mother could have consorted with the witches. But when she begins to learn grim truths about the Church and its history, she realizes the true threat to Bethel is its own darkness. And she starts to understand that if Bethel is to change, it must begin with her.
Juliette van der Molen brings a haunting, lyrical voice to a little-known story from a dark chapter of history in her latest poetry collection, Confess: The Untold Story of Dorothy Good. Drawing on the life of four-year-old Dorothy Good, the youngest person accused and imprisoned during the 1692 Salem Witch Trials, the fear and trauma surrounding this disturbing case is captured in in Confess by Juliette van der Molen.
As a longtime friend of the author within the writing community, I’ve always admired Juliette’s ability to conjure rich emotion through poetic imagery. That talent is on full display in Confess, with spare yet evocative language bringing this historical tale to life. In each line, she evokes the confusion and powerlessness of a child caught up in events beyond her control.
in the woods i wanderfrom “Untold,” in Confess by Juliette van der Molen
long after all is forgotten,
my hair tangled in branches,
feet pressed into mud.
my cheek grazes wet moss
of a forest that refuses
to damn me and holds
me like no mother ever has before.
i am unabsolved
i am undone
i am all the ‘un’ things
until i am no one.
The collection builds with a sense of ominous dread as the frenzy of accusations mounts. Van der Molen handles the sensitive subject matter with care, keeping young Dorothy at the emotional center of the story. Vivid descriptions make the stakes palpable, while brief flashes of Dorothy’s family life and inner world offer glimmers of light amidst the darkness.
While fictionalized, it’s clear the poems are meticulously researched, with vivid period details. Van der Molen notes this collection was 14 years in the making, and the care and commitment shine through. For readers compelled by unpacking untold stories from history, Confess offers a mesmerizing and haunting poetic journey back to colonial Salem. Those already familiar with van der Molen’s work will appreciate her signature style, while new readers are in for a treat with this transporting collection.
About the Author
Alexis Henderson is a speculative fiction writer with a penchant for dark fantasy, witchcraft, and cosmic horror. She grew up in one of America’s most haunted cities, Savannah, Georgia, which instilled in her a life-long love of ghost stories. When she doesn’t have her nose buried in a book, you can find her painting or watching horror movies with her feline familiar. Currently, Alexis resides in the sun-soaked marshland of Charleston, South Carolina.