Cover image for Sorceress
Rees, Celia.
Personal Author:
First Candlewick Press edition.
Publication Information:
Cambridge, MA : Candlewick Press, 2002.
Physical Description:
342 pages ; 21 cm
Eighteen-year-old Agnes, a Mohawk Indian who is descended from a line of shamanic healers, uses her own newly-discovered powers to uncover the story of her ancestor, a seventeenth-century New England English healer who fled charges of witchcraft to make her life with the local Indians.
Reading Level:
800 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 5.6 10.0 62982.

Reading Counts RC High School 4.8 16 Quiz: 34437 Guided reading level: NR.
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The suspense is over! Readers of the spellbinding story of Mary Newbury can finally find out what happens to her next - thanks to a young, modern-day descendant who has an uncanny connection to the past.

Agnes closed her eyes in the heat and steam of the sweat lodge. She woke to air that was dry and cold around her. She was no longer Agnes, or even Karonhisake, Searching Sky. She was no longer American or Haudenosaunee. She was English, and her name was Mary, and she woke to find that she was dying, freezing to death.

It came to Agnes unbidden - a vision of Mary Newbury, alone in the snow, dying of the cold. A vision of a young woman who had lived in the 1600s,
an unusual young woman who had been driven from her Puritan settlement, accused of being a witch. It was an image of a woman whose life was about to change radically, as she embarked on an existence that defied all accepted norms - embracing passionate independence, love, and loyalty to a proud, endangered community that accepted her as one of their own.

Mary's and Agnes's lives have been separated by almost 400 years, but they are inextricably linked by more than blood. Like Mary, Agnes has special powers - powers that Mary now seeks to ensure that the rest of her story is told.

Author Notes

Celia Rees is the author of many novels for teens. SORCERESS and its predecessor, WITCH CHILD, are her first works of historical fiction. "Having been a teacher," she says, "I think it's important for readers to see that people in the historical past are just like them - real people who had real problems and real emotions."

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 7^-11. In the sequel to her popular Witch Child (2001), Rees continues the fictional account of Mary Newbury, a young woman banished as a witch from the New England Puritan settlement in the 1600s. Now Agnes Herne, a contemporary Native American college student, suspects that she is one of Mary's descendants, and she goes on a vision quest to learn the rest of Mary's story. She finds that Mary was rescued from a blizzard by Jaybird, and that she married him and had two children. She also discovers that the family's happiness was short-lived as King Phillip's War intervened. Mary's poignant survival as an outsider, neither settler nor Indian, completes the story. In spite of a rather slow start, Rees has written a startlingly convincing book, so convincing that readers will need constant reminders that this is historical fiction. The format resembles historical texts, with endnotes and an author/researcher prologue that mimic real sources. The framework is sometimes intrusive and this is not quite as compelling as the first book, but once Agnes' quest begins, readers will be hooked. Frances Bradburn

Publisher's Weekly Review

A Native American teen experiences a life-altering encounter after reading about Mary Newbury, the 17th-century protagonist of Rees's Witch Child, who may be connected with one of her own relatives. Ages 14-up. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 7-10-This sequel to Rees's Witch Child (Candlewick, 2001) is a much more complex story, taking readers into a mystical plot that crosses time and place. Agnes, a Native American, is starting college in Boston. She reads part of a diary about 17th-century Mary Newbury and realizes that she has a connection with her from a story passed down in her family about a white woman who had settled with the Mohawks. Contacting the researcher who found Mary's diary leads to experiences that Agnes could not have imagined. While visiting the reservation, her aunt leads her into a vision quest where she "becomes" Mary. She sees a peaceful period, followed by years of death, forced migration, and constant conflict with settlers. Her final role as a respected healer is passed down through Agnes's ancestors, creating the link between the two women. The book ends with a series of historical notes written by Alison, the researcher. Rees manages to carry all of this off through her strong writing style and well-developed characters, using the artifacts that have been preserved in Agnes's family to add to the credibility of the story. The book not only gives readers a view of life 400 years ago and a look at one Native American culture, but also helps them understand what draws someone to historical research by showing that history is the story of people's lives and the events that shape them. While it can stand alone, the novel will be enjoyed more by those who have read Witch Child.-Jane G. Connor, South Carolina State Library, Columbia (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



-- MARY -- Massachusetts, November 1660 If I am a witch, they will soon know it. I had never ill wished anyone, but as I fled Beulah, anger and hatred clashed together, sparking curses like steel striking flint. I had done no wrong, so why was I forced to run like a fugitive? My accusers, Deborah Vane and the other girls, they were the guilty ones. Even as they denounced me as a witch, their eyes gleamed with scheming malice. The madness twisting their faces was counterfeit. Who could not see it? "Them that's blind and will not see." My grandmother's words came to me. She was a wise woman, but her wisdom brought her nothing but sorrow. She ended her life on the hanging tree, and now the same fate awaited me. They searched, and that most diligently. I cowered in Rebekah's borning room, thinking to be safe for a little time, but they demanded entry even there, their voices ringing loud with right and duty. Only Martha stood against them, defying Reverend Johnson as brave as a robin before a striking hawk. They went away reluctantly. I tracked them searching through the rest of the house, moving from one room to the next, their heavy tread freighted with hatred. I got away, but they searched for me still. I heard them hallooing through the woods, saw their torches, tiny bonfire sparks in the blackness. I heard the dogs baying and yelling. Dogs run faster than men. Snow started falling soon after I fled the town, icy pellets seeding the wind. It began to come thick, ever-more whitening the ground, making it easier for the dogs to pick me out. The first to come upon me was old Tom, Josiah Crompton's hunting dog. He's a gazehound, hunting by sight. Old Tom came leaping out of the brush toward me and threw back his long, bony head, making a sound deep in his throat, somewhere between a yelp and a swallowed bark of triumph. This brought the other dogs tumbling to him. They stood ringed about, tongues lolling, eyes bright. They had me cornered. I backed against a tree and stared at them, waiting for them to spring. Tom crept nearer, the others following, the circle tightening, then he stopped. He stood, head inclined, his short ears cocked as if harking to some sound. The men's shouting was nearer now. I thought that was what he was hearing and that at any minute he would commence barking, but he did not. He gave me one last look, wheeled around, and made off with all the others streaming after him in a rag and tag mob. The baying and yelling thinned to nothing. Tom had led the hunt away from me. I was alone again in the forest's frosty silence. I thought to run on, but tiredness overcame me. I sank down, leaning my back against the tree's rough bark, intending to gather what strength I had. I have been here ever since. The snow is still falling, drifting through the air and making no sound, feathering across my cheeks like angel fingers, weighting my eyelids, settling upon me, covering me like a counterpane filled with the finest down. I feel no cold, but I cannot move. My limbs have no feeling in them. To sleep is to die, I know that, but I cannot keep awake. Sometimes I almost hope that they might come back this way, that they might find me, but I dismiss the thought as soon as it arises. I'd rather die here than be taken. I'd rather freeze to this tree than be hanged. -- AGNES -- Boston, Massachusetts, April, Present Day Agnes fell forward, cracking her head sharply on the glass. The screen saver jarred and jerked, just for a second, then the monitor went black and she was looking at her own face staring back, eyes dilated by more than the pain in her forehead. What had that been? Vision or dream? She was cold; she was freezing. Her fingers were bloodless and withered, the nails blue. She looked to the window, expecting to see snow falling, but there was nothing. The s Excerpted from Sorceress by Celia Rees All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.