Only Robert McCammon could have written such a wonderful tale. McCammon portrays an extremely intriguing mystery involving a witch trial in 1699 Carolinas. It would infuriate you towards the superstition and ignorance of the times. Should I have been a time traveler, I doubt if I would have ventured into the 17th century world. No, thank you.
Matthew Corbett (the protagonist) is the clerk of magistrate Woodward who is conducting the trial of Rachel Howarth accused of being a witch. Only Matthew believes that there is more to the story and Rachel might be wrongly accused of being a witch. But the superstitions of the times and his ordinary position of a clerk does not help his position of trying to unveil the truth. But Matthew tries his damnedest hard to prove her innocence and at one point someone asks him, Why can’t he move on with his life? He is young (20 years) and his whole life is ahead of him. With the passage of time, his mind would come to terms with what happened and surely life would move on.
And I think the reply that Matthew gave defines the true essence of this novel: "Everyone goes on,” he repeated, with a taint of bitter mockery. "Oh, yes. They go on. With crippled spirits and broken ideals, they do go on. And with the passage of years they forget what crippled and broke them. They accept it grandly as they grow older, as if crippling and breaking were gifts from a king. Then those same hopeful spirits and large ideals in younger souls are viewed as stupid, and petty... and things to be crippled and broken, because everyone does go on."