The book has over 500 reviews on Amazon, with a 4.1 star average rating. The five-star ratings account for 41% of those, which is reasonably impressive. My review isn't going to impact that very much, and that's not my intent.
This review will also be filled with spoilers. Consider yourself warned.
First major spoiler: The dog is okay. Nothing bad happens to him. There's another spoiler about him later.
I finished the book, which is more than I do with many of the books I start. Many of them don't hold me for two pages. So there's that.
I liked the premise: Academic Connie Goodwin inherits her grandmother's old house in what was Salem Village, Massachusetts and goes on a search for a 300-year-old book with some connection to the Salem Witch Trials.
The writing was competent, if a little heavy on the description.
That said, it wasn't long before I began to have problems even as I continued reading.
Connie is a young woman, in her early to mid 20s, and she has been in school virtually all her life. The last few years in grad school have been by choice: she wants to continue to study and earn her PhD. She doesn't come across, however, as a dedicated scholar. Once she completes her oral exam and is cleared to begin her dissertation, she seems to forget all her academic training and lose all her scholarly motivation. Is it because it's summer break? It shouldn't be, because working on that dissertation should be her single primary focus now if she's truly dedicated to her scholarship.
However. . . .
She receives word from her mother Grace, a free spirit hippie type living in Santa Fe, New Mexico, that the house that had belonged to Connie's grandmother, Sophia, needs to be prepared for sale after sitting vacant for 20 years since Sophia's death. Since the house is in Marblehead, Massachusetts, and Connie is at Harvard in Cambridge, she is delegated to the task for the summer. She heads there with her roommate Liz and her dog Arlo.
There's no real explanation for why the place wasn't sold when Sophia died or why it's being sold now.
It was at their arrival at the house that I lost my willing suspension of disbelief (WSOD).
The rest of the very lengthy review is at