Published by Scholastic Inc. on August 1st 2012
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy & Magic, Historical, United States, Colonial & Revolutionary Periods
Source: Won In A Contest
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Suzanne Weyn brings her trademark mix of history, romance, and the supernatural to the Salem Witch Trials. Elsabeth James has powers she doesn't fully understand. She is descended from midwives, mind readers, and a fortune-teller who was put to death because she foresaw the death of Mary, Queen of Scots. She can hear people's thoughts and sometimes see what they see. She has supernatural gifts, but not evil ones. When Elsabeth sails with her sister, father, and governess to America, however, she does not foresee that their ship will be wrecked in a storm. Alone for the first time in her life, she washes up on a South Carolina plantation, where she falls in love with a boy she meets there and learns magic and healing from an unexpected source. As her powers grow, her stay is cut short, and she is sent as a servant to Salem, Massachusetts. There she accidentally allows an evil spirit to enter the village. When a group of girls start to say they're bewitched and accuse villagers of witchcraft, Elsabeth must find some way to save herself and the boy she loves.
Straight up, witches are cool. And for real? Who did not sit right up and pay attention during the Salem witch trials in history class? This girl was on that like white on rice. When I saw Invisible World by Suzanne Weyn up for grabs at a book signing, I chose it because I thought it would be a cool read — also I LOVE historical fiction and feel like there isn’t enough of it in YA to sate my appetite. Unfortunately, Invisible World turned out to be a disappointing read where I was left unsatisfied.
Elsabeth James has magical powers — she’s a mind reader AND also? She can like see things from other people’s perspectives quite literally. Elsabeth and her family — father, sister and governess decide to sail to America because there’s opportunities for her dad to do science things. Unfortunately, the ship they are on sinks and well, Elsabeth washes up on the shore of a Gullah Island (Which FYI I can’t say without thinking of the TV show). There on the island, she ends up falling for this guy whose name I forget because I am writing this review a few months after I finished the book. Anyways, she also learns voodoo magic too, while on the island and begins to heal. UNFORTUNATELY! Elsabeth ends up sold as an indentured servant to these people in Salem, Massachusetts, and obviously you can guess where the story is going.
So, because Elsabeth has powers you would think she’d be kind of a badass right? Unfortunately she’s more of a wet blanket. She spends a lot of the book being all mopey and such, and I was like come on let’s get to the magic. Maybe she’s a product of her time? But I don’t know, I was just hoping for a character that would knock my socks off and unfortunately that did not happen at all.
I do like, however, that Invisible World included a Gullah island, as that’s a piece of history that we don’t often hear about. I also liked that people of color got to be the heroes for once, instead of there being a white savior. However, once we get to Salem, the book takes a turn for the worse, as the witchcraft/bad guy is kind of hilarious, unintentionally. I know I probably thought the suspense stuff was funny because I am older than the intended audience, and you know, some books just don’t cross the generational divide.
Also? The romance within didn’t feel all that believable to me. I didn’t swoon or highlight pages or anything. I was like, oh that’s nice she has a beau now. It was pleasant, but nothing I really rooted or cheered for, ya know? Also, the romance happens like SUPER fast, like bam out of nowhere she’s in love with this slave. Which okay, yeah that adds in drama – the whole interracial thing. And I would have loved it if that was the book’s focus. Unfortunately, to me, I personally felt like the book suffered from lack of a strong focus and trying to do too much with too few pages. Perhaps budding history buffs will love this book, but I’ve read better (Witch of Blackbird Pond FTW).
Disclosure: Picked up at an Oblong Books event.