Books by State: Missouri

Gallows Hill by Lois Duncan

“Handsome, popular Eric Garrett decides that Sarah Zoltanne is just the right person to play a fortune-teller at the high-school fair.  Sarah is surprised and pleased.  After all, she and her mother have only just moved to the small town of Pine Crest.  Sarah’s role at the fair is all a game; the earphones hidden under her costume are the extent of her supernatural powers. But as Sarah peers into the crystal ball, disturbing images suddenly appear, revealing information she could not possibly know.

When Sarah’s visions start coming true, the students believe she’s a witch and threaten her.  Then Sarah begins to have such vivid dreams about the Salem witch trials that it seems as if she actually lived in Salem more than three hundred years ago.

What is happening in Pine Crest?  Sarah knows her life is in danger–can it possibly be true that those who threaten her are seeking revenge from another lifetime?” — Summary from Amazon.

This book really caught my eye because I’ve always been interested in the history of the Salem witch trials and also reincarnation. This book definitely reignited that flame to learn more about reincarnation. I thought the reincarnation angle enhanced the story instead of it just being like a modern spin on the Salem witch trials in a conservative town. Instead of the sole reason being closed-minded, small town people, it added that extra element that makes it more interesting rather than solely upsetting – because honestly, any story that centers around someone being targeted, attacked, ostracized, etc. is very disheartening so, in my opinion, you need a little extra flair in a story like this. I definitely believe Lois Duncan delivered in that regard.

My favorite character isn’t mentioned in the summary. Sarah’s only friend in the town is a boy named Charlie. He also wasn’t born in Pine Crest and faces scorn from the town because of his weight and his family’s interest in “unsavory” topics such as reincarnation. He is the character that introduces the idea of reincarnation and explains Sarah’s powers to her. And he’s just an all around good boy! Loved Charlie 🙂

Overall, it was well paced and definitely well written. The concept of dredging up all the terrible secrets of a small town that (most likely) everyone is aware of but ignore for the sake of image, is certainly a commonly used plot line, but it was done very well here because it wasn’t taken overboard. The secrets of the town were very real, things that could very well happen in any household or town or city anywhere in the world. All the characters were very realistic and familiar feeling. I found it to be a unique, interesting story that kept me hooked until the end!

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