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Shaun Loftus
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The Devil's Glove
Northern New England, summer, 1688. A suspicious death. A rumor of war. Whispers of witchcraft. Salem started here. Perched on the brink of disaster, Resolve Hammond and her mother, Deliverance, struggle to survive in their isolated coastal village. They're known as healers taught by the local tribes - and suspected of witchcraft by the local villagers. Their precarious existence becomes even more chaotic when they are summoned to tend to a poisoned woman. As they uncover a web of dark secrets, rumors of war engulf the village, forcing the Hammonds to choose between loyalty to their native friends or the increasingly terrified settler community. As Resolve is plagued by strange dreams, she questions everything she thought she knew - about her family, her closest friend, and even herself. If the truth comes to light, the repercussions will be felt far beyond the confines of this small settlement. THE DEVIL'S GLOVE is a meticulously researched tale of supernatural suspense and intrigue, based on the true story of the fear and suspicion that led to the Salem Witchcraft Trials. Will Resolve be able to uncover the truth before the town tears itself apart, or will she become the next victim of the village's dark and mysterious past?

Semi Finalist

Plot/Idea: 9 out of 10
Originality: 10 out of 10
Prose: 10 out of 10
Character/Execution: 9 out of 10
Overall: 9.50 out of 10


Plot/Idea: The pace is breathless from the first pages and builds to an agonizing crescendo, culminating in an ending that leaves an opening for future books in the series. Readers will be swept into the story’s history, a history that ripples with beauty, fear, and decay, and the plot’s twists are so skillfully delivered that readers will sense them before they haunt the pages.

Prose: Grindle is a gifted storyteller, evoking the visceral spirit of the novel’s setting and painting stark images with lyrical brushstrokes. The cadence changes when Grindle switches perspectives, but the transitions are executed almost flawlessly. 

Originality: The Devil’s Glove is unique in the undercurrent of fear entwined with an unexpected devotion that runs through the novel. Grindle brings that unnatural attachment to a head by the end of the story, setting the stage for more edginess in future installments. 

Character/Execution: Grindle’s characters leap off the page, made surprisingly relatable despite the novel’s time period. Abigail is both childlike and unnerving, a perfect counter to Resolve’s naivete and eventual awakening. Supporting characters fit their roles neatly, in perfect tempo to the story’s rhythm. 

Blurb: A skillfully haunted tale illuminating the dark, and noble, side of humanity in the most unexpected ways.

Date Submitted: April 18, 2023

From its opening lines this historical novel from Grindle (Villa Triste) grips with its rare blend of a powerfully evoked past, resonant characters, smart suspense, and prose touched with shivery poetry: “Nothing will lead you to guess what sweet familiars we were, thirty years ago in Massachusetts, where they called me Witch,” narrator Resolve Hammond declares early on, and the story that follows lives up to that line’s promise. In Eastward, Massachusetts, in 1688, young Resolve and her mother offer natural healing to both settlers and Natives, whose coexistence is uneasy at best. Trained by a Native sachem, Resolve lives somewhat apart from the Christians, but Resolve knows enough to say this of their fear: “like a fever or a pox, it is contagious.”

But, set a half decade before nearby Salem’s infamous trials, Grindle’s richly told tale doesn’t hold to the familiar beats of witch-hunt panic. Even as her mother explains to the town that a mysterious death was caused by natural poison rather than witchery, Resolve herself suspects a ten-year-old girl, Abigail, of being a changeling or demon. The suspense is multi-layered and provocative as Grindle deftly details the settlers’ fraught interactions with multiple tribes, their concerns that reports of potential deviltry might draw the attention of Boston’s brimstone-preaching Mathers, the question of how to interrogate a young girl, and the thrill and terror of civilization taking root among wild woods and coast.

Adding to the pervasive uncertainty is readers’ awareness of the superstitious injustice looming in the region’s near future, and the teasing possibility that, in spite of our rational understanding of history, something beyond our mortal realm just might actually be preying on Abigail—and others, too—all as Resolve and her mother themselves face the suspicions of the settlers. Powered by telling historical detail, vivid visions, and an urgent sense of empathy for its characters, The Devil’s Glove will dazzle readers who appreciate immersive, lyric historical fiction open to possibilities.

Takeaway: Gripping historical novel in the years before Salem’s witch trials.

Comparable Titles: Stacey Halls’s The Familiars, Alexis Henderson’s The Year of the Witching.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A