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The Circle Girls by Anya Noviko

An ordinary California teenager, Delli Willis finds herself in some kind of dreamscape whenever she drifts off to sleep. 1692, in the hotbed of the Salem Witch Trials. There, she’s Deliverance Wyllys, struggling against accusations and suspicion as well as the appearance of a mysterious dark-haired young man with strange tales of his own.

Back in her own world, parallels with the past abound. She meets a real-life mysterious neighbor, handsome Gabriel. Is he her present? Her future?

Or her past?

She’s eager to share him with her circle of friends but fingers point, jealousies surge. Lies cast, sides taken. A modern-day witch hunt collides with 1692 in ways Delli never dreamed. Standing up to bullies tightens Delli’s faith in God, Who pulls her through some trials of her own.


    Deliverance was listening to forbidden music in a time of fear and death. She was in a place she had not known to exist before this minute.  All of this was either a miracle or a spell. She prayed for a miracle, for a spell would bring death.
    "Good day, mistress," he said finally. His voice was low with an unfamiliar burr.  The left side of his face, the side that wasn’t masked by his hair, was beautiful. The half-mouth was well-shaped and rosy, the slender half of nose handsomely carved. He placed the instrument to his mouth once again and started a lilting tune.  She could see that he held some sort of flute, handmade from a reed.
     La-la-la. La. La. La. La. La. La.
     Suddenly the dangerous sounds hammered into her.
     "Oh, no, you must stop!  It is not wise. Someone might hear. These are strange days. Goodman Crowninshield is a fine man, but there are so many others..." She thought of Goody Putnam and reached to stop him.
     As he turned away, the long curtain of hair lifted like a bat stretching its wing. She saw the rest of his face, and gasped out loud.
     The left side of his face was as perfect as that of the alabaster saints the Reverend railed against. The gray eye watched her with much interest.
     The right side was a twisted web of tortured flesh with a cold, dark hole that had once been an eye.
     Was he a demon after all? Was this good and evil combined? Her breath came out in loud gasps that she could see in the air.
     "Do not fear me," he told her finally.
     How could she not? What if he was a spirit or a wizard? The prophet Isaiah clearly admonished against such a thing. But her left hand seemed to have a mind of its own. It reached for him. She placed it gently over what had once been a face almost like she had done so many times before.
     Then he took her hand and placed his lips at her wrist.
     Her pulse jumped with life against his mouth, but she found a lump of revulsion in her throat as she tried to swallow.
     "You can trust me," he said. “I mean no harm.”
     She turned from him, filled with interest but also with loathing.
     “Trust?” She wanted to escape. “Trust does not exist here in Salem Village.” For the first time, her feet seemed stuck in the mud.
     "I will find you, you know," he told her confidently.
     Startled, she looked at him one last time.
     He pointed to the eyeless hole. "I am not blind.  I see most everything.” Then his voice sounded sad.
     “But I cannot see yet if you are my doom or my deliverance. Maybe you are both. Or maybe I am yours."  With no other word, he turned and swiftly vanished into the evening trees.

Anya Novikov has long been intrigued with the Salem Witch Trials and their timeless message.  A career teaching American Literature at a Catholic high school is the backbone for this Young Adult story of dark dreams and fierce faith.

A native Californian, she lives on the central coast with her firefighter husband. She keeps busy with family, travel, and volunteering at the local horse rescue, thanking God for the blessings of love, faith, and good health. 


Anya Novikov said…
Clare, thanks from the bottom of my heart for sharing my first YA book with the waiting world. You're a wonderful friend. Love and God's blessings...

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