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In the Shadow of Salem Review by Lori Moffit

Donna B. Gawell

I have recently been reading a historical novel which is based on real people. The book In the Shadow of Salem, written by author Donna B. Gawell, delves into the life of Mehitabel Braybrooke. She was condemned more than once for crimes punishable by public whipping and prison. This novel is available in both paperback ($7.95) and Kindle EBook ($3.99) versions.

Mehitabel Braybrooke was a real person, an ancestor of author Donna B. Gawell. Rather than publish a dry historical list of facts she uncovered about Mehitabel and her family, the author chose to novelize her story so that it would draw in the reader. And draw me in is exactly what this story did! I do love a novelized account of a real-life person in history.

Mehitabel was the illegitimate child of Richard Braybrooke and loved dearly by him. She was absolutely hated by his wife who, though Mehitabel called her mother, would not return any love or caring toward her. In her foolishness as a girl, Mehitabel began getting into trouble, something easy to do while living in Puritan New England during the 1600’s. Accusations of any sort of sin could cause one to be severely punished, but when one lie escalates to other troubles, things get very serious. Mehitabel must face real terror, as she has now been accused of crimes punishable by death.

It was very hard to put this book down, as I just wanted to know what would happen next and whether or not Mehitabel would come out all right.

Obviously with only historical records available, Mehitabel’s life had to be fictionalized somewhat, since the only things available about her were legal documents, etc. Drawing from those documents, Ms. Gawell was able to flesh out the circumstances of her years and bring Mehitabel’s story to life.

-Product review by Lori Moffit, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, November, 2018