The title goes a long way to explain what drew me to this book. The "Burning Times" is a particular passion of mine, and as a result is the basis of many of my own works. I was excited and intrigued to see what another author would do with similar material. I wasn't disappointed. I was angry. Just as the author intended I would be.
The structure of Witch Hunt is an effective flip-flop from the past to the present as it follows the history of the Hawthorne family from their persecution during the Salem witch trials to the present-day hounding by a local televised and zealous Preacher. With stops along the way in Ireland and Denver, the novel offers a wide net of faiths, rituals, local cultures, and local prejudices.
While at times seeming far-fetched and over-the-top, it's sobering to remember that many of the most bizarre, cruel events in the novel are solidly based on well-researched fact. The trials in Salem, for example, are almost completely based on anecdotes from the time. I can attest to that, having done a lot of research myself. What Devin does, though, is add the human element back into the history. It's easy to become dissociated with deaths that happened over centuries ago, but Witch Hunt reminds us that the victims of such radical purging had personalities, families, loves of their lives.
This is a book the will spark your rage against the injustice created by prejudice, and how easily the masses can be lead to believe the ridiculous if there's someone charismatic enough in the big chair. At the same time, it's a story that inspires courage and hope that it is possible to stand up and do something about it. To pick a side and show support and change the world for someone else. In that way, Witch Hunt is similar to Threshold, in that it's a lesson in stepping up; in making difficult choices and learning to accept the consequences.
This book needs to get more attention; not just for the important reminder it offers, but also for it's well-crafted story, wonderful characters, and let's not forget that always-needed touch of magic ;)