Thursday, February 3, 2011

Review: Father of Lies

Ann Turner
Paranormal Young Adult
256 Pages
Harper Teen
Available February 8th
Received from publisher for review

It's winter in Salem, Massachusetts, and on the currents of the wind and blistering cold, some believe the devil himself has blown into town. Several young girls have fallen ill, subjected to fits in which their limbs flail about outside of their control and they claim to feeling needles stab at their skin. Those responsible for this witchcraft must be stopped before anyone else suffers.

Fourteen year old Lidda is unique among the girls of Salem. She doesn't wish to be a dutiful housewife, pregnant and obedient, but rather seeks the freedom to choose her own path. Adding to her unusualness is the arrival of a being in her room one night, granting her the ability to see truth from lie, and whispering to her that the girls of Salem Village are lying in their accusations.

Worried her admission to seeing a presence who calls himself Lucian and admitting she hears voices in her head will earn her a place in jail with the others accused of evil doings, Lidda struggles to get a grip on reality. She knows the girls are lying, but she's a single voice amidst a chorus of noise calling for the demise of the oppressors. Can one stand against many? Or will Lidda succumb to her affliction and go up in flames side by side with those who are innocent?

Father of Lies serves as a reminder of the extreme consequences when a voice is lent to untruths, shedding light on a period of history when the thrill of power and control overwhelmed reason and morality, leaving good people swinging from the end of a rope while the accusers spouted venom followed by half-hearted apologies. The story transports us to the middle of a brutally cold Salem Village, the freezing temperatures reflective of the icy cruelty of the young girls who vomit lies with little remorse. It is a study in fundamental human behavior, and though we are aware of the historical outcome, we can only read on with increasing anxiety as the young ladies get a taste for the influence typically denied girls of their station, and fight the bouts of nausea as the strength of their words has ramifications of epic and deadly proportions.

Lidda is an interesting protagonist, one who adamantly refuses to don the blinders the rest of the residents of Salem so eagerly wear, and refuses to easily fall prey to a dangerous mob mentality that results in irreparable damage. Though we're thankful to be privy to the mind of someone who sees the accusations as transparent falsehoods as opposed to solid truths, a connection to her never truly forms. Her thoughts are constantly churning as she struggles to discern fact from fiction and reality from hallucination, and we skip from thought to thought with little preparation for the move. Because she retreats into her mind at every opportunity, we are forced to live in the tangle of her mind with her, our access to the outside world and the other characters limited by the parameters of a possible bipolar disorder.

As a result of Lidda's issues, we experience the events of the trials only on the periphery, receiving snippets of information and rumors from third party mouths instead of first person experience. Though Lidda witnesses some of the girls' behavior first-hand, it's often in very short bursts and then she withdrawals either physically or mentally, and our exposure to the events is abruptly halted. The individuals carted away destined for jail or a noose remain distant and almost unreal entities, little more than names on a page as Lidda's interactions with them are practically nonexistent. As a result, our emotional attachment to the horror of the witch trials isn't quite as profound as it could have been were we able to witness the proceedings in additional dimensions. Because this story is a fictional retelling of the events, the opportunity to thrust us mind and soul into the middle of the action is there, but instead we delicately tiptoe around the outside as though careful not to disturb the historical facts any more than necessary, and we therefore see and hear through Lidda without being fully absorbed in the world.

Overall, Father of Lies is fascinating in its subject matter, and Lidda's battle with the voices in her head are engrossing, but there is something small missing that's keeping our emotional involvement at bay. We are only ankle deep in the story while wishing to be fully submerged, and with each page we struggle to wade deeper only to find that despite our efforts, we haven't moved an inch.

Rating: 3/5


  1. hmmm I had not heard of this book before... dont think I'd be into it =/

    Great review as usual though hon! =D

  2. The cover is gorgeous it is shame it lacks a little emotional involvement. I might see if it is available at the library. Another wonderful review Jenny :)

  3. I hadn't heard of this one before, so thanks for the review, Jenny! I'm interested in the Salem Witch Trials, and always on the lookout for books dealing with the subject.

    I really like the cover too, although it sounds like the overall story misses the mark a little.

  4. I love the premise for this one because I'm fascinated by Salem, but it bugs me when we have to spend too much time in a character's mind. I want to know what they're feeling through their actions...not just internal thoughts. Great review, Jenny :)

  5. I hadn't heard of this before and it does sound interesting, but even from just the blurb about the book I didn't feel that "click" that tells me it'll live up to expectations.

    Perhaps it will be one to look out for in a library rather than one to purchase. Thanks for the review!

  6. Wow, this sounds...different. I've always been fascinated by the Salem witch trials (have you read Ann Rinaldi's A Break With Charity?), but this seem like an odd twist on the story. Being stuck in the character's mind sounds a bit frustrating, albeit interesting. At least it's something different from every other Salem book out there.

  7. Larissa - I really love books on the Salem Witch Trials, this one just didn't give me enough information or anything new to what's been done before.

    Nic - I just wanted out of her head for a bit, I wanted to know more about the trials themselves, but that's my own wants so others might like it better:)

    Leanna - Me too! I was just hoping for more with this one:)

    Melissa - That was the main problem for me, just when the trials are heating up, we had to retreat with Lidda.

    Aurelia - It's probably a great one to get from the library:)

    Alison - I haven't read that one, but I'm going to go look it up now:) It's definitely different, I just thought there would be more about the Salem trials themselves.

  8. I will never tire of reading books about Salem Witch Trials. I am adding this to my TBR. The plot sounds fantastic so I am a little sad to read that emotional attachment is lacking. Thanks for the review!

  9. Lovely, detailed review. I really like the sound of this one.

  10. Fascinating review :) I've always been fascinated with the Salem Witch Trials too :)

  11. Oh gosh... I definitely took a course last year in school on Witchcraft and the Salem trials and everything and it scarred me. Worst. Class. Ever. And for the reason alone I don't think I could read this. Thanks for the great review though!

  12. Tahnks for stopping by my blog !! Yours seems great !I'm your latest follower ;)
    This book is in my wishlist, I love the cover !! =)

  13. Misha - Me either, even though I know how things turned out, that period of time never fails to fascinate me!

    Blueicegal - Thank you!

    Juju - They suck me in every time, I just cannot wrap my mind around why those girls did what they did once they saw the repercussions!

    Avery - That's too bad! I can see how studying the trials in great detail would leave scars.

    Elodie - You're welcome, we seem to read a lot of the same things so I had to follow:)

  14. Jenny, this sounds a lot like a book I read a while ago called "The Minister's Daughter" by Julie Hearn which also has the hysteria and lies play a big part of the witch trials. This one seems really interesting, but it's such a shame that the author doesn't dig emotionally deeper into the story. I do, however, like that we can get into the character's minds though. I'll look this one up and see if I my library has it. Thanks for the review! :)

  15. I have been waiting for this review since you had put it up that it will be next. I am little disappointed that it is not what I hope it would be. I was hoping that it would be a little more interesting. Thanks for the review. I will on off on this one.

  16. I was wondering about this one, haven't seen many reviews of it yet. Sorry to hear it was a bit of a disappointment and didn't engage you emotionally - that connection to the main character is usually pretty critical for me as well. Thanks for the review, Jenny!

  17. I hadn't heard of this book before your review, and while I usually find anything having to do with Salem utterly fascinating, I don't know if this book would work for me. I just don't think getting lost in the narrator's mind would be as fun as getting lost in the story of events. Though I must applaud the author for trying something different with this retelling.

    Thanks for sharing your honest thoughts, Jenny.

    Hope you are staying warm. Let me know if you need me to send you some candles. ;)

  18. I was hoping this one would be a little better, but if there is a lack of emotion, then it's probably not one I would enjoy. If it were an 'issue' book, that's one thing, and I wouldn't need a connection for that, but it's different when characters make the bulk of the plot.

    Thanks, Jenny!

  19. Rummanah - I liked Lidda overall, and I don't think I would have minded being in her head as much if there wasn't so much interesting stuff happening outside of it as well. I was ready for a tale of Salem and it was more a tale of Lidda's personal struggle, which is fine, I just wasn't expecting it as much.

    Savy - There were some good elements, it just wasn't as in depth as I would have liked.

    Danya - I wanted to like her more than I did, she was interesting and I enjoyed her, I just didn't love her.

    Brandi - She had some interesting moments!

    Missie - I think if it hadn't been about the witch trials, my reaction might have been different, I just wanted to learn more about those events and I kept getting yanked away from them.

    Linds - It was just a little lacking with the emotional connection, still a quick read, but not one that haunts you long after you've finished!

  20. I don't think I have heard about Father of Lies until I read your review. I know there are a couple other YA books about the Salem Witch Trials but haven't picked up any of them. Too bad there was a disconnect with the story.

  21. This one sounds like it would make me frustrated. I could fully appreciate the fact that she has a dangerous choice to make. Not just dangerous, but impossible at that time for females in particular. Great premise, but too bad the execution just wasn't there. I would need to really connect to this character for that type of story. Brilliant review!

  22. The premise of this book certainly intrigues me, but the lack of emotional connection to the characters is a big turn-off. I'm all about the feelings haha :) Excellent review!!

  23. Eccckkk...that sounds kind of scary. You know I had an old lady tell me once when I worked at a bank...that liars would have their turn in the lake of fire...I was like OK- how do you want that change back? LOL just a little random hell story...:)

  24. I continually compare all Salem Witch Trial books to A Break with Charity by Ann Rinaldi, and usually find them lacking. Based on your review, it sounds like the MC voice is diluted with a paranormal presence and therefore lacks the kind of connection I prize in my characters. Thanks for the review

  25. Jenny - It's still an interesting read, just not my favorite:)

    Melissa - I definitely wanted more of a connection, there was a lot going on and there just didn't seem time for that bond to form.

    Tara - I'm all about feelings too:)

    Tina - LOL!!! That is hilarious. And creepy. Your response was perfect:)

    Jan - You are the second person to mention that book, I need to go out and read it!

  26. Fantastic review. I think I will check out this book, even though it sounds like the main character is watching events unfold, rather than participating directly.

  27. Have I been living under a rock? Another book I haven't heard of. This sounds fascinating! While I'm a little worried about the lack of depth given the potential, I'm still adding this to the TBR. Thanks!

  28. Never heard of this one before but I love learning about the Salem WItch Trials! It's a shame about the execution though because I love that cover as well!

  29. Your review is fabulous as always :o) I especially loved the last line about being only ankle deep when you want to be fully submerged. I have felt this way with books before, especially when reading Sarah Dessen novels. Her books always just skim the surface and never delve deep enough to allow the readers to get emotionally involved with the characters. I'm not sure that Father of Lies is my cup of tea, but I really enjoyed reading your review :o)

  30. I think I had confused this book with another one (a contempt about an abusive father) so I'm glad I read your review to set me straight. I'm still not sure if this one is for me though. I love books set during the Salem witch trials, but I don't like that it's difficult to get submerged in the story.

    I want to be able to attach strongly to the characters and have them get really involved in the historical dramas, and that doesn't seem to be what happens here. Hm, too bad. Thank you for the information. Your review has been very helpful.

  31. Madigan - That's a great way to put it, she's more of an observer dealing with her own issues and I hoped for a more direct involvement

    Tara - I think a lot of people will enjoy it, it was just a little more superficial than I would have liked!

    Aylee - I'm a huge Salem Witch Trials fan as well in that I find them fascinating, I think that's why I was a little disappointed, I'd hoped for a really different take on the trials themselves and they weren't really even that big a part of the story.

    Laura - Thank you! It's the only way I could describe this one, I kept hoping each page would take me deeper and I just stayed on the same level.

    Small - Glad you found it helpful, that's one of my goals when I write the reviews:)

  32. I hadn't heard of this book either. I find the salem witch trials facinating. Sorry it didn't quite live up to its potention though!

  33. I haven't read much about the Salem witch trials (though what I've heard of it is fascinating) so I was hoping that you'd like this one. It's too bad then that you didn't form an emotional attachment and that we don't really get to experience the horrors of the trials up close.