The Devil’s Glove: The Coffee Pot Book Club Blog Tour

Northern New England, summer, 1688.
Salem started here.

A suspicious death. A rumor of war. Whispers of witchcraft.

Perched on the brink of disaster, Resolve Hammond and her mother, Deliverance, struggle to survive in their isolated coastal village. They’re known as healers taught by the local tribes – and suspected of witchcraft by the local villagers.

Their precarious existence becomes even more chaotic when summoned to tend to a poisoned woman. As they uncover a web of dark secrets, rumors of war engulf the village, forcing the Hammonds to choose between loyalty to their native friends or the increasingly terrified settler community.

As Resolve is plagued by strange dreams, she questions everything she thought she knew – about her family, her closest friend, and even herself. If the truth comes to light, the repercussions will be felt far beyond the confines of this small settlement.

Based on meticulous research and inspired by the true story of the fear and suspicion that led to the Salem Witchcraft Trials, THE DEVIL’S GLOVE is a tale of betrayal, loyalty, and the power of secrets. Will Resolve be able to uncover the truth before the town tears itself apart, or will she become the next victim of the village’s dark and mysterious past?

Excerpt from The Devil’s Glove by Lucretia Grindle

            “A Trisket, a Trasket. Four kittens in a basket.”  

            I stop, my hands wrist deep in the crumbling earth. It is not a good day for digging. With the weather so hot and dry, it is hard to fashion the walls of the holes. Hard to pack them tight and smooth so they will not fall in on themselves before they hold even a single memory. My mother and I learned this too, in The Greening. The earth cradles every act played upon it. 

            In the years we passed under the care of Ashawonks, as we lived nestled among her people, my mother and I came to know the forest. We learned the thickets and ponds and streams, as well as the shore, and the opened ground that was burned each spring before the last snow melted so planting could begin. And, as we did, as I followed my mother, my short footsteps never out of her long shadow, we saw that along every track and path, at any place of meaning, a memory hole had been dug. 

            Sometimes, they were as deep as an elbow and as far across, if the event remembered was large – a battle, or a feast, or an alliance. Sometimes, they were no deeper than a wrist or wider than a hand and commemorated nothing larger than a meeting, or a hunt, or an extraordinary sight, a great stag or a huge pair of snowy owls. No matter its size, each spring every hole would be carefully tamped and re-tamped. And each time a memory hole was tended, the story that lived there was tended, too – told to anyone who happened to pass by, who would in turn re-tell it. In this way life was remembered. Names and events tethered to the earth that birthed them. 

             We commit memory to books. Scratch the nib along the paper, blot the ink, and trust written words to cradle all the fragile past. I know that is what civilized God-fearing people do. I can read, and my penmanship is good. My mother has seen to that. We have ink and quills and parchment in the writing box where we keep my father’s letters, those that reach us, and the accounts and records of the earnings from the sawmills he has built and ships he has launched with Captain Alden. My father has been gone two years, and all his absence is written down. So, perhaps I should know better than to do this. But I cannot help myself. 

            After my father left us, Ashawonks took us to the spot where we last saw him. The she-sachem was a small woman, but fearsome. She moved through the forest as if her feet did not touch the ground. Some said she was a shape changer, that under a lesser moon she would vanish for nights at a time. That day, above the river bank where my father took his leave of us, shape changer or no, Ashawonks  showed my mother how to find and hollow out the space where his boots stood. She knelt, and dug with a clam shell wider than my hand, then helped my mother firm the sides of the hole so the earth would not fall in and swallow what had been.             

            Ashawonks taught my mother how to smooth my father’s smile. How to tamp the booming sound of his words into the soil. How to fasten his touch to the earth so when my mother missed him she could return and kneel beside the memory hole, and place her hand on its damp floor, and know that she would find him there.

            Now, since spring, I have done the same. As soon as the earth was soft enough to yield, I began to look for the right place. When I finally found this spot high on the point that stretches above our birch grove, I became a thief. I began to pluck the brush of my mother’s lips when, thinking I am asleep, she bends to kiss me in the night. To cup my hands around the sound of her voice as she speaks my name. To steal and hoard the sight and smell and sound of her. Then, when my pockets are full, I come here, and tamp the soil, and smooth the edges of the holes, and imprison her in a ring of memory. 

              This clearing was made by the tribes. I have found fragments of shell at the bottom of some of my holes, and blackened stones that came from fires. But since we have come with our forts and our houses and our fences, no one has used it. When I found it, this place was almost lost. It is still my secret. No one knows about it. No one comes here, save me. Or so I thought. But it seems I was wrong.

            “A Trisket, a Trasket. Four kittens in a basket.”

             The singing voice is unfamiliar, strange and deep. But surely a man would not sing such a ditty? Although it is true that some men sing with the voices of angels. You come across them from time to time in the fields, sowing or driving cattle, when they think they are alone in the world with God. Then, the singing they make is as alien to their large bodies and rough hands as a goldfinch’s song to a mule. But this does not sound like that. This song is not spiraling to heaven. This voice is deep and thick. Dreamy as a slow-sinking stone. But with a sour edge. This voice sounds like turned cream running down a basin. 

            I pull my hands from the half-finished hole and wipe them in the grass. This far up, the point climbs and narrows until it sticks into the sea like the prow of a ship. If you look down through the wind-stunted trees, you will see nothing but rocks, hard and pinked, as if the dawn they face is always on them. In winter or in a storm, the waves out here thrash. Now, in this heat, the sea, like the rest of us, can barely bestir itself. It strokes and rocks, half-hearted, making almost no noise at all, which is why I can hear the singing.

            “A Trisket, A Trasket -” 

            The song begins again, sounding closer. So close that, like a doe with a fawn, I realize I must quit this place in order to protect it. I have a sudden vision of being caught here – discovered on my knees with all my memories revealed. I get to my feet, trying not to scramble, to be both as silent and as fast as I can. 

            The path that runs up the point is barely a path. In most places, it is little more than the echo of a track. No one from the village bothers to even try planting here. The soil is too thin and too salted and  the trees too wind lashed and poor for cutting. But despite their frailness, in the summer they are thick with undergrowth. The voice is louder now.

            “A Trisket. A Trasket. Four kittens in a basket -”

             I reach the far side of the clearing. My skirts snag on brambles. Through the scrim of leaves, I can see the glittering lazy sea far below, deep green and darted with sunlight. 

            “A Trisket. A Tras-”

            The singing stops, and I freeze. Without warning, my skin turns cold. Out on the water, the brightness of the sun is suddenly sharp and dangerous as shattered glass. As if pushed by a giant hand, I sink to my belly without knowing why, only that I must make myself as flat, and small, and as still as I can. 

            My heart is throbbing like something being squeezed. I am sure I can hear it. Then I realize something else is throbbing, too. Beating like the beat of a drum. I close my eyes, but it gets louder, until it is a sound and a shape at once and I know that if I stretched my hand out, I would touch it. 

            “A Trisket.  A Trasket -”

             There is a tease in the song now, as if it knows I am here. As if it can see me, and is daring me to show myself.  To crash through the brambles, burst from my hiding place like an animal set on by hunters. Cold sweat blossoms on the back of my neck.

            Four kittens in a basket.

             I open my eyes, somehow knowing what I will see. Blanketed by the low twisted trees and the brambles, surrounded by a haze of green, I can just make out the track a few feet in front of me.  A dark figure stands on it. With the shattered sun and broken glass of the sea behind it, it looks huge. But it cannot be. Because Abigail Hobbs is only ten years old. 

Praise for The Devil’s Glove:

“From its opening lines this historical novel from Grindle (Villa Triste) grips with its rare blend of a powerfully evoked past, resonant characters, smart suspense, and prose touched with shivery poetry.” 

~ BookLife Reviews Editor’s Pick

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Lucretia Grindle grew up and went to school and university in England and the United States. After a brief career in journalism, she worked for The United States Equestrian Team organizing ‘kids and ponies,’ and for the Canadian Equestrian Team. For ten years, she produced and owned Three Day Event horses that competed at The World Games, The European Games and the Atlanta Olympics. In 1997, she packed a five mule train across 250 miles of what is now Grasslands National Park on the Saskatchewan/Montana border tracing the history of her mother’s family who descend from both the Sitting Bull Sioux and the first officers of the Canadian Mounties.

Returning to graduate school as a ‘mature student’, Lucretia completed an MA in Biography and Non-Fiction at The University of East Anglia where her work, FIREFLIES, won the Lorna Sage Prize. Specializing in the 19th century Canadian West, the Plains Tribes, and American Indigenous and Women’s History, she is currently finishing her PhD dissertation at The University of Maine. 

Lucretia is the author of the psychological thrillers, THE NIGHTSPINNERS, shortlisted for the Steel Dagger Award, and THE FACES of ANGELS, one of BBC FrontRow’s six best books of the year, shortlisted for the Edgar Award. Her historical fiction includes, THE VILLA TRISTE, a novel of the Italian Partisans in World War II, a finalist for the Gold Dagger Award, and THE LOST DAUGHTER, a fictionalized account of the Aldo Moro kidnapping. She has been fortunate enough to be awarded fellowships at The Hedgebrook Foundation, The Hawthornden Foundation, The Hambidge Foundation, The American Academy in Paris, and to be the Writer in Residence at The Wallace Stegner Foundation. A television drama based on her research and journey across Grasslands is currently in development. THE DEVIL’S GLOVE and the concluding books of THE SALEM TRILOGY are drawn from her research at The University of Maine where Lucretia is grateful to have been a fellow at the Canadian American Foundation. 

She and her husband, David Lutyens, live in Shropshire.

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