Great October Read! Devil Knows: A Tale of Murder and Madness in America’s First Century by David Joseph Kolb
Devil Knows by David Joseph Kolb is “ripped from the headlines”…provided you found the headlines in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1692.
October is the time to read or reread Devil Knows by David Joseph Kolb. At the end of the month children will be having fun carving pumpkins and going trick-or-treating in witch costumes, telling spooky stories and watching scary films.
The history of Halloween is muddled and has multiple roots. Some believe Halloween traditions originate in Celtic harvest festivals that have pagan roots, but more generally accepted is the origination of the word “Halloween”, or “Hallowe’en” – which is the contraction of All Hallows’ Evening or All Saints’ Eve — is a celebration observed in a number of countries on 31 October, the eve of the Christian feast of All Hallows’ Day.
It’s complicated. Here in the U.S. Halloween is also associated with the Salem witches. What happened in New England has been largely rewritten, mythologized in movies that hide the dark and sinister reality of what really happened in America’s first century.
David Joseph Kolb has taken that sinister reality and with the deft hand of a Pulitzer Prize nominated journalist he has created a magnificent story that confronts the truth of the Salem witches. It is an extraordinary novel accomplished through historical investigative reporting.
The Kirkus review of Devil Knows states:
Here is a novel “ripped from the headlines”…provided you found the headlines in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1692. Yes, we’re talking about the infamous salem witch trials. With a cameo role by Ray Bradbury’s ancestor, accused witch Mary Bradbury.
Veteran journalist Kolb anchors this historical fiction to the fate of Mary Bradbury, the only convicted witch to escape with her life (from a fetid Boston prison) …
Long after the book is closed, the reader will be pondering that time and place and how it still reverberates in the American psyche.
Kirkus was so impressed by “Devil Knows” the review was selected by Kirkus Indie Editors to be featured in Kirkus Reviews special Fall Preview issue.
Devil Knows: A Tale of Murder and Madness in America’s First Century
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Five Star Amazon Customer Reviews
The story is well-paced, and the author clearly spent a lot of time and energy on the setting and characters. While you’re reading “Devil Knows”, you temporarily forget about all of the future successes that were to accrue to this nation—you see it as they must have, a small outpost of tenuous civilization, surrounded by an alien and hostile wilderness.”
“He very skillfully introduces us to an engaging character whose life we travel through as the threads of this intricately woven story unravels. The layers of history that we learn about along the way on this suspenseful journey are both surprising and appalling. I could not put this book down until the last page was turned!”
“Devil Knows is an intriguing story creatively woven into actual historical events using actual historical figures. The author presents us with insight into the minds of the early New England colonists as well as the Native Americans inhabitants.”
“What an attention keeper, amazingly written the author writes with suspense, graphics and detail…everyone should read this book.”
“I thoroughly enjoyed reading Devil Knows and gained a more nuanced appreciation for the infamous events of that period. In fact, I felt knee-deep in it. The central mystery pulled me through the mess of early New England along with characters who are surprisingly understandable when viewed through their historical context. Yet the themes of intolerance and brutality; compassion and bravery speak not just to America’s history. A great story well told.”
“The author has thoroughly researched an early American period and provided insight into a dark chapter in the history of our country, with enough fiction mixed into keep the story intriguing. Plenty of detail and well developed characters keep the history from being dry, and it is fascinating to learn in the afterward how much fact and how little fiction is contained in the story. I may read it again to apply what I learned later in to book to the earlier chapters to increase my understanding. Great presentation that I highly recommend.”
“Devil Knows captured my interest on page 1 and kept me under its spell to the very end. Not being much of a history buff I was surprised and delighted to find myself getting caught up in the period, fascinated by the difficult life of our early American ancestors. Hopestill Foster, through whose eyes much of the story is told, was a delightful combination of simplicity and courage, and I truly cared what happened to him. This is the first time I can remember enjoying a story so much while at the same time coming away from a book feeling like I’d genuinely learned something. Part mystery, part history, totally enthralling!”
“I just finished Devil Knows and it was great! I loved the history, and I have a much clearer understanding of the cultural context of the witch trials. The novel eloquently portrays the conflict of religion and governance, religion and commerce, the Native American Tribes and the tragic arrogance of British and French colonization. Wow! It has everything a good story needs.”
David Kolb Interview