Book Review: Conversion by Katherine Howe

If you haven’t realized it yet as you’re reading through my crazy blog, my husband and I are full out geeks. We love anything to do with science fiction, fantasy, etc. whether it’s books, artwork, games, movies… The list goes on.

About two years ago, we went to C2E2, a huge comic and entertainment expo in Chicago. There were tables and tables of artists, walls full of beautiful artwork, comics for sale, gamers demoing new devices, makeup artists, movie makers, science fiction actors, cosplayers… It was heaven!

Plus, to make the experience even more amazing, there were publishers handing out pre-release versions of books for free! Did you hear that? Free books! We loaded our bags full of fresh new books (along with all of our purchases of comics, artworks, Magic Cards, t-shirts…) and got busy reading. One of the books I was lucky enough to nab was Conversion by Katherine Howe.

Here’s an excerpt from the back cover:

It’s senior year at St. Joan’s Academy, and school is a pressure cooker. College applications, the battle for valedictorian, deciphering boys’ texts: Through it all, Colleen Rowley and her friends are expected to keep it together. Until they can’t.

First it’s the school’s queen bee, Clara Rutherford, who suddenly falls into uncontrollable tics in the middle of class. Her mystery illness quickly spreads to her closest clique of friends, then more students and symptoms follow: seizures, hair loss, violent coughing fits. St. Joan’s buzzes with rumor; rumor blossoms into full-blown panic.

Soon the media descends on Danvers, Massachusetts, as everyone scrambles to find something, or someone, to blame. Pollution? Stress? Or are the girls faking? Only Colleen—who’s been reading The Crucible for extra credit—comes to realize what nobody else has: Danvers was once Salem Village, where another group of girls suffered from a similarly bizarre epidemic three centuries ago . . .

Inspired by true events—from seventeenth-century colonial life to the halls of a modern-day high school—Conversion casts a spell. With her signature wit and passion, New York Times bestselling author Katherine Howe delivers an exciting and suspenseful novel, a chilling mystery that raises the question, what’s really happening to the girls at St. Joan’s?

My thoughts?

51s5qdzyqilI loved loved loved this book! As a disclaimer, it’s somewhat large and took me a little bit of time to get into, but once I’d sunk my teeth in, the words flew past. The character interaction is ultra fluid and realistic, reminding me way too much of the very real stresses of a high school student preparing to go off to college. There’s a touch of young romance along with the average amount of friend drama you’d expect from a novel about a group of teenage girls, but the author doesn’t overdo the angst.

One of the things I especially loved about this novel was the touch of history. You flip back and forth throughout the story from modern day media driven chaos, to the more localized but still highly dramatized chaos of colonial life during the Salem witch trials. I appreciate that this book is inspired by real events, but loved the way the author gave the story a fantastical twist.

Conversion is a novel I would highly recommend to any reader who appreciates an entertaining history lesson splashed with a bit of magic. This book definitely earned five our of five stars!


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