Hour of the Witch is very good historical fiction. One of Bohjalian’s great strengths is his research; another is his sense of humanity. By the accretion of lavish detail, he’s able to show us a real world and the people who live in it. He also gives us someone with whom to empathize: Mary is admirable in her determination, independence and clearheadedness. At the same time, she is a person of her own time, and Bohjalian makes clear how the systems of that time work ... the tale is told against a solid background of domestic violence, female rivalries and solidarity, and an evenhanded sense of fairness regarding the community in which these events take place. The importance of the religious nature of daily life is woven into the story, not imposed upon it ... while the book is as thick with details as chowder is with clams, the specifics are handled with great skill and delicacy. The book is a thriller in structure, and a real page-turner, the ending both unexpected and satisfying.
Blending historical events with page-turning thrills, Hour of the Witch offers a propulsive and powerful tale ... Bohjalian at his best. He’s drawing from real history while endowing it with his own propulsive storytelling touch. The resulting narrative is intense and intimate ... Mary Deerfield is one of the most fascinating characters to spring from Bohjalian’s pen...heartbreaking and incredibly engaging ... Bohjalian’s gifts as a researcher are front and center here as well. His ability to recreate this particular place, both in the nuts-and-bolts scene-setting and the cultural attitudes, is unparalleled—the reader is fully dropped into this world, left to be equal parts fascinated and frustrated by the myriad differences between that time and this one. And of course, there is the prose. When Bohjalian is really cooking, there’s a kinetic energy to his storytelling that is unlike anything else in the realm of popular fiction ... Hour of the Witch is another exceptional offering from Chris Bohjalian, one that features the hallmarks of his best work while also breaking new ground.
... harrowing ... what happened when a woman’s husband was the very threat she must escape? This question becomes, in the hands of a master storyteller like Bohjalian, an engrossing tale of a woman who insists upon the right to navigate her life, and the consequences when she does ... At the novel’s dark center is Thomas, a terrifying, vindictive brute[.]