by Devin O'Branagan
first - take a good look at the cover - when buying this book, look for the edition with this cover, not another cover. This is the updated for 2010 version of Witch Hunt. I like this cover, since it's simple and dramatic, yet has a certain flair. If you purchase the edition with the other cover, you will not be getting the updated version of Witch Hunt.
Witch Hunt is about the Hawthorne family, who've been "witches" for many, many generations. Rather, they're devout followers of an old, ancient religion that has often been persecuted as witches; they have many varied abilities and the knowlege to use them.
This is not a Happily-Ever-After type of book. It starts out with the family of one of the current sons, who has stayed away from his birth family, trying to be inconspicious, or to follow his beliefs in his own way. It seems he might have done his children and wife a disservice though, because in denying his own family (with good reasons, as you'll find out reading the novel) he has left his family with no knowledge of their potential, or possible dangers. In fact, his wife Leigh doesn't even know about the "witch" powers.
Craig and Leigh are traveling to Montvue to attend his brother and father's funeral. They have one son and one daughter. The two recently deceased died in a crash that the local televangelist was in - only Cody (the preacher) interprets the actions and the crash in his own special way - thinking he has been spared to carry the word about the evil of witch craft.
Now it would seem that in this day and age, most of us wouldn't even blink twice when told about how evil witches are...but change the word witches to almost anything else, and we've all seen the smear campaigns of people trying to incite mass hysteria and hate about a group - gays, Muslims, people crossing the border, even insurance reform....and even in this "enlightened" year of 2010 I'm still surprised at how easy it is to fool people into hating a specific group of people. And the hate goes along with a type of fear that is dangerous to have around. The type of fear that will drive otherwise simple people into doing horrific things in the name of religion or government. People as a group are not that smart, sometimes.
Witch Hunt brings a scenario to your mind. What if it were possible to go beyond the common sense of people, incite fear and loathing about a group - how would people react? How would the persecuted react? What would be the consequences? This "what if" is played out, from the very beginnings with Preacher Cody almost being laughed at, to him actually getting a few people to listen, to the mass hysteria and mass persecution, 21st century style, of people accused of being witches and anyone associated with them.
Not only is this a story of the current Hawthornes, though, but there are glimpses of past Hawthornes throughout history. It would have very easy to show the Hawthornes as completely sympathetic here, totally persecuted, but the author didn't go that route. She tells a story of a family that has good people, good intentions but like all families has their share of family members that aren't the best - in fact, some are a little twisted. Only these few family members aren't just twisted, but they're twisted with powers....and it goes to their heads.
Witch Hunt is a good read, with characters both good and evil on both sides of the coin - and gives us a view of the bad that comes with judging people, not just judging but going out of your way to persecute. And if you're squeamish in any way, be aware that there are a few spots that can get to you - nothing is over the top graphic, but there are some things that happens in the book that is pretty horrific, however, everything described is in fact, situations that real people have been in througout history. Ms O'Branagan has researched this subject before she wrote the book. The situations I'm speaking of were also written about matter-of-factly, which helped. O'Branagan did not go over-the-top in her descriptions, she didn't get all dramatic and go on and on with her descriptions of the scenes. That helped, because I think if it were handled any differently, I wouldn't have been able to read those sections.
I also enjoyed the various character's points of view. Some of them were people you would really want to know. Some were people you don't want to notice you. Some had wicked senses of humor and some were they type that I would get very frustrated with if I knew them. There was quite a variety of personalities.
Remember to look for the updated version of Witch Hunt. It was originally written 20 years ago, but Devin O'Branagan re-worked it for the 21st century and the cover you want is the one I've inserted at the beginning of this post. If you see the other cover, which has a dark background, then you're seeing the original book. The newer version is suited more to 2010. To confusion, it is possible to buy directly from Devin O'Branagan's site, and that way you can request an autographed copy.
Ms O'Branagan is also the author of Glory, a young adult book about a pandemic and vampires and witches. I like that book also - and I believe she is writing a sequel to it.
She is the author of a series of books (Red Hot) about a real estate agent. I think this series is more humorous (I love to read funny books) and has quite a cast of characters. Red Hot Property is now in my TBR pile. :)
Devin O'Branagan has a FaceBook page is quite accessible to those interested in her writing and her artwork. Also, to those who simply like to discuss dogs and other subjects dear to her.