In 1666, puritanical Christianity found a foothold in the New World. Known for the rejection of nearly everything as being sinful, life in a Puritan community could be pretty tough, especially for women. But Christianity wasn’t the first religion in America, not by a long shot.
Abitha, a young Englishwoman, marries into the Puritan society of Sutton, Connecticut, and finds herself relegated to the fringes of the community, an outsider due to her sharp tongue and headstrong manner. She also brought small charms and potions with her from England, remedies from her mother that would be considered witchcraft in Puritan circles. When her husband is killed in the woods behind her house, Abitha must decide how to live as a widow in a community that seems to be waiting for her to fail.
If only that were all she had to worry about. Deep in the dark of the forest, something ancient, primal and hungry has awoken. Can Abitha survive alone when old Slewfoot comes to her door?
Slewfoot is creepy, crawly, bloody fun. There are some downright spine-tingling moments that are sure to stick with you long after the last page. From shadows in cornfields, to pits filled with bones, to entrails scattered across deserted roads, author and illustrator Brom wastes no opportunity to turn up the spook factor, whether in prose or in the deliciously creepy paintings that illustrate his tale. However, what’s especially commendable about this horror aesthetic is the wayt the reader’s reaction to it changes over time. As the story progresses, these passages don’t simply shock; they reveal more and more about the universe of the story. Without giving too much away, by the end of the book, you’ll be rooting for blood.
Indeed, Slewfoot’s most compelling theme is its fascination with change. We see it most with Abitha, who is an incredible character. As she grieves, finds confidence in herself and gets drawn into the ancient power of the spirits of the forest, the reader empathizes with that transformation. There’s also a continuing meditation on good and evil, dark and light, life and death. Do monsters think of themselves as monsters? Are there elements of dark and light in all of us?
If you’re looking for a witchy, thrilling ride that also has a philosophical soul, grab a copy of Slewfoot—and don’t put it down until you’ve finished it.