Last year I read Peni Jo Renner’s Puritan Witch: the Redemption of Rebecca Eames and enjoyed the harrowing and insightful story of a woman condemned to hang for being a witch. You can see that review for the first book in The Puritan Chronicles, and an interview I did with Peni, HERE.
Peni recently released the sequel, Letters to Kezia, which picked up in the times following Puritan Witch and features Rebecca Eames son, Daniel, of whom eventually has a child named Kezia. Kezia is born to and lives with her mother, Mary Case, and as a character she starts the book in a present time by finding letters that will allow her to learn about her family’s past.
As soon as she begins to read the letters, we are taken shortly back in time to the meeting between Mary Case and Daniel Eames. He’s awaiting a trial for witchcraft in jail, and Mary, being a Puritan minister’s daughter, takes him food. She seems entranced by him and then rescues him, following him into hiding within a Native American tribe. Danger, turn of events, and emotional secrets all ensue that are quite shocking to Mary. From her courageous struggle to survive in the wildnerness, to having to battle against the men searching for Daniel, to a personal betrayal, to the death of her beloved sister and all she holds true in her heart, Mary runs from one bad situation to the next.
This story is very short. I could skim through the material in about an hour, but it was an enjoyable tale for a quick historical read. Based on the true story of Daniel Eames, it has elements of authentic history to it, as he was the author’s ancestor. It certainly was full of action that kept one wondering what might happen next. In parts, it tugged at the heart strings as it was emotional in respect to Mary, but Mary was presented as a strong woman of great character. This time the novel really focused on Mary, with Daniel as a supporting role. Rebecca reappears in a most kind way and we see Puritan and a witch accused together in way that shows us the compassion of people.
At first I didn’t like Peni’s portrayal of the Algonquin Tribe, but I realized later that she was really delving into what someone truly like Mary, in Mary’s position and situation, might feel towards them. When Mary came to conclusion in one section that she wasn’t anymore sure who the heathens were, the Native Americans or the white religious men, I could understand the sentiment that Peni was getting across with her writing about not judging others.
Peni seems to have a heart for what many people went through with the Puritan’s skepticism and rigid life. We are all intrigued by witches, but the more that books are written truly identifying with the real people and families from this time period, the more we realize how much some people truly endured. We learn a lesson in judging others.
I do wish that Peni would have fleshed out this novel more, however. I think there was room to make a longer novel with this tale, full of more description of setting, people, and their interactions, rather than quickly moving us onto the next without fully being able to delve into the moment. I wanted to read more about Daniel and understand his life and decisions even further. However, Peni does write lovely, detailed sentences with wonderful structure that absorb you into the novel.
Peni is constructing a fabulous Puritan series that will take us back to a time and place in history that is not always fondly remembered but that we all need to continue to learn upon. She showcases for us some of the real people of the time and place. This sequel is another stepping stone to an overall historical legacy of the time.
Publication Date: January 14, 2015
Formats: eBook, Paperback
Series: Book Two, The Puritan Chronicles
Genre: Historical Fiction
It is 1693 in Hereford, Connecticut, when Mary Case, the spinster daughter of a Puritan minister, finds herself hopelessly smitten by the roguish thief, Daniel Eames. Betrothed to a man she does not like or love, she is soon compelled to help Daniel escape from jail. Suddenly, she finds herself on the run, not only accused of being Daniel’s accomplice, but also of murder.
The fugitive pair soon finds solace-and a mutual attraction-among the escapee’s Algonquin friends until two men from Daniel’s dark past hunt them down. After Mary is captured and returned home to await trial, a tragedy takes the life of her younger sister, revealing a dark secret Mary’s father has kept for months. But just as Mary learns she is pregnant, she makes a horrifying discovery about Daniel that changes everything and prompts her to develop an unlikely bond with his mother, Rebecca, who soon saves Mary from a shocking fate. It is not until years later that her daughter, Kezia, finally learns the truth about her biological father and family.
Letters to Kezia shares a courageous woman’s journey through a Puritan life and beyond as she struggles with adversity and betrayal, and discovers that loyalty can sometimes mean the difference between life and death.
Praise for Letters to Kezia
“In the tradition of author Peni Jo Renner’s gripping debut novel, Puritan Witch: The Redemption of Rebecca Eames, Letters to Kezia recounts the tale of courageous, compassionate, and relatable Mary, whose connection to Rebecca and her family is unforeseen and profound. The reader is captivated at the very first page, as Letters to Kezia is a story of forbidden love, deep family secrets, intrigue, murder, and atonement. Another beautifully written triumph for this author, whose immense gift for story-telling transports the reader into each scene so deftly, one can almost smell the wood smoke and hear the crackling of the fire in the hearth.” – Kelly Z. Conrad, award-winning author of Shaman
“Peni Jo Renner enthralled readers with Puritan Witch, the ordeal of Rebecca Eames, who was condemned to hang from Salem’s gallows as a witch. Now the Eames saga continues as Peni uses her special brand of witchery to bring Mary Case and Daniel Eames to vivid life, and shows us just how much a young woman will risk for love. Letters to Kezia is a poignant, true-life tale from colonial New England’s heartland which will captivate you, and keep you guessing until the end.” -JoAnn Butler, author of Rebel Puritan and The Reputed Wife
Buy the Book~
Author Peni Jo Renner, Biography~
Originally from North Dakota, Peni now lives with her husband in Maryland where she is currently researching for the third book in the Puritan Chronicles series.
You can also follow Peni Jo Renner on Twitter.
Tour Schedule: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/letterstokeziablogtour/
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