The Valley of Deer

The Valley of Deer

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Anne discovers in an old Bible the name of young Alice Jardyne, who was murdered as a witch in the 17th century. She determines to find out more about her, but as she does so, Alice's story begins to become frighteningly more

Product details

  • Hardback | 148 pages
  • 140 x 215mm | 308g
  • Oxford University Press
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • 0192715992
  • 9780192715999

Review Text

From the Scottish author of The House on the Hill (1987, ALA Notable), a story that links two centuries: in 1964, Anne (14) is living in a valley near Dumfries that is about to be flooded to make a reservoir, while her archaeologist parents excavate an ancient burial mound; meanwhile, she gradually discovers the events that led to the murder of Alice Jardyne, described in a Bible she finds in their old house as born in 1701 and "deid the 24 juin 1726 blottit owt of the Boke of Lyffe." Prompted perhaps by the crystal orb her parents unearth in the mound, perhaps by her own research, Anne shares Alice's terror and some of her experiences as a spiteful sister-in-law accuses Alice of being a witch and credulous neighbors betray her in brief, powerfully written scenes set within the novel's complex larger design: the interaction among Anne, her more practical older sister, and their single-minded, scholarly parents; the local midsummer pageant for which Anne is unwillingly drafted to play a witch in what she realizes is a tasteless travesty of the true, evil nature of witch hunts; and her friendship with a young woman, crippled by polio but - unlike hunchbacked Alice - well-loved. Sharp charactertizations, a touch of fantasy, a tragic mystery, and the fascination and relevance of the past are satisfyingly woven in the fabric of Anne's pivotal spring. Some words have been Americanized - unnecessarily, since no one clever enough to read this could possibly be confused by the original. (Kirkus Reviews)show more