The Real and Wicked Wethersfield Witches
I’d like to introduce everyone to a little American witch history. The first American witch trials took place in Wethersfield, Connecticut, a historic Puritan town near Hartford, in the sixteen-sixties. During this time, the Puritan population of Wethersfield was suffering from bouts of sickness and mental fits, for which they blamed the devil, who was surely acting through powerful female vessels who had succumbed to his evil charms.
Neighbors spied on one another and casted blame on women like Rebecca Greensmith. In 1662, several witnesses spied her dancing, drinking, and making merry in the woods with other accused witches. Then a neighbor afflicted with fits of blasphemy accused Rebecca of bewitching her. The Wethersfield witch hunts were followed by trials presided over by the Reverend Increase Mather (his son, Cotton, grew up to be just like dad and, a few decades later, had his own hands bloodied with the Salem Witch Trials). Rebecca, who was not afraid to hide her wicked side, admitted to having conversations with the devil, claiming to form a pact with him, as well as colluding with other witches in the woods. Her shocking confession along with, in the Reverend Mather's judgment, her lack of fear for God, her familiarity with the devil, and her involvement in unnatural events, was enough for him to condemn her to death by hanging.
This question along with the Wethersfield history inspired my newly released YA fantasy, Disenchanted, where Sophie Goodchild, my curious and impetuous sixteen-year-old half-witch protagonist, is a modern-day descendant of the aforementioned Rebecca Greensmith.
As Sophie struggles with her emerging magic and deals with a group of full-blooded witch frenemies, her impatience and curiosity lead her into trouble. She meets the mysterious Alexavier Mather, a descendant of Increase Mather who had a hand in hanging Sophie's ancestor at Gallows Hill. When he reveals his name, she immediately hates him, but senses he is hiding a dark secret and there’s nothing Sophie loves more than uncovering a good secret.
Danger finds her as she delves into the mysteries from both their families’ pasts. Then she begins to fall for the forbidden Alexavier who reveals that his bloodline is hexed with a true love curse that could destroy them.
Alas, there is hope. If Sophie can learn how to tap into the mysterious power of her blood-red diamond charm and find an ancient book of dark spells, she might be able to disenchant the Mather bloodline and save them both.
However, she must first deal with the deadly threat that is Alexavier’s father, Judge Mather, and he has a nasty secret of his own that will drive Sophie to make an impossible choice, one from which she may never return…
As the vision wore off, the glass jar tumbled from my fingers and smashed into tiny shards against the porcelain of the sink. I crumpled to the bathroom floor. The vision of Elizabeth’s last night was her final message. I cradled my face in my hands. My hatred for the judge was no different from Rebecca’s in its depth and darkness. I hated that it was, but I was going to need it. It would carry me through the ritual necessary to save Alexavier. I gripped the edge of the vanity and pulled myself to standing.
I touched my hand to my bloodcharm and dressed in the uniform then took a deep breath as I slid the ceremonial black robe off its hanger and tied the satin belt around my waist. I smoothed my hands against the front panels of fabric, feeling the cold silk against my fingertips. An icy trickle of darkness, the same liquid black ice I felt before listening to Judge Mather and Laney, traveled the length of my arm.
This time, I invited it in.
I felt the darkness tame my impetuous nature, allowing me to feed slowly on the hatred and control it. The coldness flowed through my veins and to the lengths of each limb. The icy darkness pooled in my chest and chilled my heart.
The change was beginning. “Elizabeth, I hope you’re right about the magic in me being able to change black hearts ’cause I’m going to need it for my own.”
The doorbell chimed, startling me to a more alert state. “Hold on,” I shouted. I opened the duffel bag and removed the knife and vial before tossing the robe in. I stuffed the small items in my skirt pocket and carried the bag with me downstairs, setting it in the foyer. I clenched my hands tightly together before opening the door. “Cal? What are you doing here?” I asked, shocked to see him on my doorstep.
“I was worried about you,” he said abruptly, entering the house and grabbing me by the hand.
“I don’t have time for this right now. I have a meeting with my aunt tonight,” I implored impatiently.
“A meeting?” He noticed the gray skirt and white shirt. “Not yet.” He led me to the kitchen and pulled a chair out.
He studied me and grimaced. “Sophie, I don’t know what’s going on, but I get the feeling you’re in trouble.” Perhaps it was his connection to tribal magic, but beyond his tough guy exterior, he was surprisingly intuitive.
“Cal, I’ll be fine. I’m a little stressed and tired, that’s all.” I blinked, feeling a strange weight on my lashes. I glanced at my hands, turning them over. My skin looked luminescent. Flawless. I smacked my lips together, feeling their plumpness.
He scrunched his face up as he eyed me. “Tired? You don’t look tired. Are you wearing makeup?”
I raced to the foyer mirror, out of Cal’s view. My heart-shaped lips bloomed a blood red, my lashes thickened and bowed upward like the arms of a goddess, a dewy glow radiated from my flawless ivory complexion, and as I watched, the messy knot unrolled down the length of my back into a wavy sea of glossy sable hair. My mouth fell open.
“I wasn’t finished.” Cal marched toward me. “Whoa. What is going on?”
I turned to him, having to act like I normally did. “Nothing.”
His eyebrows arched. “Something. Did you get a makeover in the last thirty-seconds?”
I gathered my silky hair and draped the long smooth tresses over one shoulder. “I’m trying something new. Don’t make fun.”
He shook his head, stupefied. “Whatever. I came here to give you something.” He took a breath as if to say something else, but he stopped. Our friendship had evolved and deepened into a mutual love for each other; a love between friends, but nonetheless sacred and forever.
I shook my hands at him. “Cal, don’t. It’s not...”
He reached into the pocket of his jeans and extracted a tangle of black leather string. Angst crossed his bronzed brow. “I want you to wear this.”
I glanced at the object resting in his open palm; a small wood carving attached to leather strands. The amulet was the size of a postage stamp.
“It’s a talisman carved from eucalyptus wood. It wards off evil spirits and will protect you.”
“Is this a white magic token?” He smiled without explanation. “Cal, it’s incredibly thoughtful of you. I love it. But I can’t take that.” I didn’t deserve to wear it at the moment, not as the darkness spread through me like the poison Romeo drank, silencing the warmth in my heart. My lips tingled. “Your mom wouldn’t like it.”
His lips twisted to the side and his expression was one of rejection. “I think she would be okay if she saw it on you.” He smiled, a hint of sadness seeped into the corners of his mouth. “Here...” He took my hand and looped the leather around so the talisman dangled delicately from my wrist. I could feel his gentle touch on my skin as he secured it. He placed his large hands on my shoulders and looked at me. “Promise you’ll be okay?”
A laugh cracked through my stress. “Promise.” Cal’s sentiment was deeply appreciated. He never failed to make me laugh, even as the temperature of my heart dropped.
He leaned in and kissed my cheek as a small tear escaped from my eyes. “You better be.” The doorbell rang again. It was too late to stop him. In one long stride, Cal turned the knob before I could move.
Alexavier stood in the doorway, glaring at Callum with disapproval and irritation. “Callum, what a surprise to find you here,” he said gruffly, sarcasm saturating his voice.
“I’m trying to take care of my girl.”
I didn’t want Cal to mess this up. I still needed one thing from Alexavier. Alexavier spoke directly to him. “Callum, I know you care about Sophie, but I can take care of her. She doesn’t need you.” He kept his voice low, but his tone was protective and threatening.
Callum stepped closer to him.
“Callum, this will not end well for you if you insist on challenging me,” Alexavier warned. His voice remained even, but his body was poised to fight if Callum insisted.
I wiped my cheek and stomped toward them. “Please, stop this. Please! I care about you both, but Callum, you need to go,” I pleaded, fearing Cal would snap. I pulled on Alexavier’s arm roughly to break the defensive eye contact he maintained with Callum.
“I’m not afraid, Mather. I also don’t need my fists to prove I’m the better man. Sophie will see that one day,” he snarled ferociously.
I flashed my eyes wide. My jaw jutted out. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. This was the last thing I wanted to deal with or could deal with and I feared what I would do under the influence of my choice. “Callum... leave now!” I didn’t care about hurting anyone’s feelings at the moment. My emotions were shifting beyond that.
He pushed past Alexavier in a huff to leave. Alexavier ignored the action, focusing his attention on me. I was relieved he didn’t engage Callum in a fight. He stood before me, astoundingly handsome in a blue button down shirt. He grasped my hands and looked deeply into my eyes. “What was that all about?”
My blackening heart skipped a beat. “I’m sorry about Callum. I don’t know what got into him.”
“Jealousy, I would say. I warned you.”
“I don’t want to believe that’s it.”
His fingers gently pressed against my hand and wrist, lifting them to inspect the talisman. “Did he give you this?” A combination of regret and jealousy lined his voice.
“It’s to keep evil spirits away,” I replied as I touched the wood carving with my fingertips.
He sighed. Our future was under a black cloud from the past where Rebecca’s curse and his father’s mistakes affected us in the present. And after tonight, even if the ritual went according to plan, there was no guarantee things would be the same or better for us. I was risking my life and my soul. Even if I survived breaking the curse and the reconversion, I would be different, changed, tainted from the black magic I had already invited into my heart and it might all be for nothing.
Leigh Goff loves writing young adult fiction with elements of magic and romance because it's also what she liked to read. Born and raised on the East Coast, she now lives in Maryland where she enjoys the area's great history and culture.
Leigh is a graduate of the University of Maryland, University College and a member of the Maryland Writers' Association and Romance Writers of America. She is also an approved artist with the Maryland State Arts Council. Her debut novel, Disenchanted, was inspired by the Wethersfield witches of Connecticut and was released by Mirror World Publishing. Leigh is currently working on her next novel, The Witch's Ring which is set in Annapolis.
Learn more about Leigh Goff on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Goodreads.