cover image Yankee Witches

Yankee Witches

. Yankee Publishing, Inc., $12.95 (315pp) ISBN 978-0-912769-32-5

The editors of Civil War Women present an anthology about witchcraft in New England. Surprisingly, the five tales set in the midst of 18th century ``witch fever'' are the least interesting, perhaps because their authors are at pains to depict the vindictiveness, hysteria and other questionable motives behind the accusations. Two masters of short fiction appear: Edith Wharton's ``All Souls' '' is suffused with Jamesian ambiguity about what is real and what imagined; and John Cheever's ``The Music Teacher'' is a chilling story of a husband who stumbles casually on a witch who helps him control his wife's passive aggression. Light-hearted pieces display the American tendency to fit even the mysterious powers of the supernatural into a familiar context: Ogden Nash's wicked work of schoolgirl cruelty, ``The Three D's''; Patricia B. Circone's tale of a reluctant modern-day witch who's ``Just Another Working Mom''; Alice Morse Earle's hilarious story of rural superstition, ``The Witch Sheep''; and Stephen Rynas's offbeat ``The Apprentice Sorcerer,'' about a man who uses Yankee ingenuity to defeat a wizard who claims prior rights to his witch-bride's hand. (Oct.)