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Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Review: Conversion by Katherine Howe

Title: Conversion
Author: Katherine Howe
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile/Penguin
Pub. Date: July 1, 2014
Genre: Contemporary YA
Rec. Age Level:12+
Pages: 432
More by this author: The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, The House of Velvet and Glass

Goodreads / Buy It

 When a mysterious illness begins to afflict senior Colleen Rowley's classmates at the academically competitive St. Joan's Academy in Danvers, Massachusetts, panicked parents and hungry media swarm, armed with questions, accusations, and wild theories. Refusing to let an unknown illness jeopardize her college prospects and her rightful place at the top of her class, Colleen continues to brave the halls of St. Joan's and taking on an extra credit assignment comparing The Crucible to the real Salem Witch trials. As tensions rise, she begins to notice the undeniable similarities between the witch trials and the paranoid panic that's taken over Danvers... Is the illness an allergic reaction? An environmental side-effect? An elaborate hoax? Or could Danvers, once known as Salem Village, be plagued by an even older evil? In her first book for young adults, Katherine Howe deftly parallels the infamous Salem Witch Trials and the overwhelming societal pressures on modern teens. Conversion is an undeniably thought-provoking read with an expected twist.

Katherine Howe has established herself as an adult historical fiction author and Conversion is sure to earn her a name within the YA genre. Realistic fiction with undertones of horror, this novel alternates between the Salem Witch Trials and present-day Salem - now Danvers - where history is curiously repeating itself. 

The alternating time shifts offer an interesting mashup of historical and contemporary elements, blurring the lines between past and present, fiction and reality. There are many theories about what really happened during the Salem Witch Trials, but we might never what truly motivated the dark events of that time, nor the young women that spurred the community's panic. Coupling this mysterious period in history with the corresponding, contemporary events in Danvers serves to make the entire situation more sinister and confusing.

Prior to reading this novel, I was unaware that the modern storyline was very much inspired by relatively recent true events. If you enjoy this novel, I recommend doing a bit of research to find out more. In the meantime, try  not to pry - it'll make the events of the novel that much more surprising!


  1. Glad you enjoyed this! I feel so silly that didn't realize this Katherine Howe was the same adult historical fiction Katherine Howe. I met her at a book festival a year or two ago, and she was really cool. I'm going to have to read this one soon, because your mention of it's inspiration from true events has me super curious.

  2. So happy you enjoyed this one! I am so fascinated by the Salem Witch Trials, and this book has a really cool concept. I'm going to have to give it a shot.

  3. The Salem Witch Trials are seriously so scary to me because I wonder "what if this happens again." Well, this book is the "what if" !

  4. I've actually had her adult books on my TBR for awhile because they were on a Downton Abbey reading list, but I still haven't gotten to them. What I like about this book is that it could easily appeal to teens AND adults. I hope you find time for it!

  5. Do you have a copy of this Downton Abbey reading list? I am so obsessed with that show. :)

  6. I knew you were cool. I can't wait for the final season!

  7. I just bought this today! I'm so excited to start it now!


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