Katherine Spada Basto is author of Days to the Gallows a novel on the Hartford Witch Panic. Since its publication in December, 2016 “Days to the Gallows” has earned numerous awards.
Based on a true story.
After years of research, Ms. Spada Basto has brought to life a turbulent and disturbing period of Colonial Connecticut history. It is a time when wolves prowled near the town and superstitions about witches often brought people to an untimely death-hanging by a noose on Gallows’ Hill.
Synopsis of Days to the Gallows
“Before the Salem Witch trials…in 1662, a witch panic struck Hartford.”
Seventeen year old Hester Hosmer is a neighbor and friend to Ann Cole, despite Ann’s reputation for being “strange” and a “mooncalf.” One night when Hester attempts to drag Ann home from one of her moonlight walks, the girls stumble upon a strange, fire-lit gathering on the South Green. But in 1662, such gatherings are strictly forbidden by the Puritan laws of Hartford.
When a child dies mysteriously, Ann’s hysteria begins and she accuses certain townspeople of witchcraft. A witch panic envelopes Hartford and paranoia runs rampant.
Hester tries to discourage Ann’s hysterics and the more she discovers, the more conflicted she becomes about her own loyalties. Hester’s budding romance with Tome, the peddler’s son only makes Ann jealous and increases the tension.
With the ruthless Marshal Gilbert the Puritan Elders and the Acting Governor himself at her beck and call, Ann can prove to be a dangerous enemy.
After all, anyone in Hartford might be a witch.”
Excerpt from Days to the Gallows
“She pinches me! Goody Ayres chokes me!”
I held Betty’s sweating hand and washed her damp face with a cloth.
“Hush, Betty. ‘Tis but a nightmare. Your belly is sore from the hot broth.”
“But she grabs me still, Hester. She sets the furnace on me and squeezes my bones. Father, make her stop!”
What possesses Betty to say such things?
Goodman Kelly came over to the bed and observed Betty. Then he glanced at me with a pained look on his face. He reached down to grasp his daughter’s little hand. Then he rushed back to the kitchen and returned with some crushed white powder on a wooden spoon.
He mixed it in with the left over liquid in the noggin. “Here is some angelica powder, Betty. ‘Tis good for the blood and keeps the evil spirits away. Take this and drink now,” he said.”
Days to the Gallows by Kathy Spada Basto awards:
Readers Reviews of Days to the Gallows
“A superb addition to the historical fiction genre, this engrossing witchcraft tale should appeal to a wide-ranging audience.” -Kirkus Reviews
“A nearly unknown piece of history, brought to vivid life…” -Duncan Eagleson, Author, “Darkwalker”
from Amazon reviewers…
“I define a really good read when I get lost in another place and time and more importantly. when I get connected to characters I ultimately end up caring about. This book does all that and more…“- 5 star review, Amazon
“Very well written historical fiction account of a little known part of Connecticut History.” – 5 star review, Amazon
“This was a fast paced and exciting read describing a dark part of American history…it was gripping and I did not want to put it down.” -5 star review, Amazon
“I found this book to be very well written and the story made you become a part of it. I felt like I was in 1600’s Hartford. I became engrossed and couldn’t put it down.“-5 star review, Amazon
Review from Goodreads.
“Katherine Spada Basto has done her research and like all my favorite historical fiction authors, she provides sources. She has taken scant facts and created a compelling story…I look forward to more of Basto’s work.“-4 stars, Goodreads.