the witch of Blackbird Pond

by Elizabeth George Speare
256 pages, Historical Fiction
Reviewed by Clodsley S.

Well written novel, but a little short on action and only for patient readers.


16-year-old Barbados girl Kit Tyler moves to colonial America in the late 1600s after her grandfather's death. There she meets her aunt, uncle, and cousins and the disapproving natives of Wethersfield, Connecticut. Upon her arrival, she finds the Puritans of the area have shunned the Quaker woman Hannah Tupper, who lives in an old house by Blackbird Pond. She - and Kit - are both accused of witchcraft.


The Puritan morality is twisted a little in the book, for many of the people of Wethersfield falsely blame Kit and Hannah of witchcraft and put them on trial. Hannah is shunned and banished from the community only because she is a Quaker and accused (once again falsely) of being a witch. A woman thinks her child is too dumb to go to school, which some might consider mild child abuse. There are themes of prejudice in the book, notably Quakers and Puritans, and Patriots and Loyalists.

Spiritual Content

In the Puritan community of Wethersfield, religion is a common and heavy practice. The natives of the area attend Meeting, or church, about three times every Sunday. During Kit's trial, the name of a young girl written on a copybook is said to be some kind of a spell. A witness said that he saw Kit and Hannah dancing around a fire and he reported that the devil also joined their dance.


As a punishment for vandalism, men are put in the stocks, whipped (implied), and rotten food is thrown at them. When an illness strikes the people of Wethersfield, the townsfolk blame Hannah and plan on burning down her house. Talk of witches who are burned.

Drug and Alcohol Content


Sexual Content

Wethersfield bachelor William Ashby falls in love with and courts Kit, and it is implied that they kiss once. Their relationship is otherwise platonic other than William's want of marriage. Other proposals are given to Kit's cousins, and their are themes of romance (through marriage) throughout the book.

Crude or Profane Language or Content

"D--mn" is used a few times.


Gentle and descriptive, "Witch of Blackbird Pond" is a sweeping novel with good moral quality, subtle romance, and beautiful, prosy phrases and metaphors. However, the action wears thin and it will probably only be a treat for patient readers who don't like too much violence. The story also teaches lessons on religion, discrimination, and marriage.

Fun Score: 4.5
Values Score: 5
Written for Age: 13+

Review Rating:

Average rating: 5 stars
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