Witch by Barbara Michaels
A middle-aged woman’s children have grown up and left the nest, so she goes looking for her dream house, and finds one in nowheresville Virginia. Sure enough, that house is haunted. But it’s not the dead that she needs to worry about. The living are far more dangerous.
Witch is not as dated as Ammie, Come Home. Some things about it still feel relevant. The main character finds herself at odds with some of her neighbors, who follow a rather nasty version of Christianity. She’s shocked by how conservative, bigoted, and sexist their beliefs are. She doesn’t realize how bad it is until she visits their church one Sunday. The hate-filled sermon is too much for her.
[She] had no desire to offend anyone, but she would not condone such trash by sitting still and listening to it. Quietly she rose and walked out of the church. . . . Oddly shaken, she sat in the car for a few minutes to recover her composure. She was disturbed, not so much by the encounter with a mind both violent and irrational, but by the realization that her safe, sane world was only one of many worlds. She had labored under the absurd but widespread delusion that the attitudes of her circle were those of the majority of humanity. For years she had lived in a world of superficial tolerance and good breeding. It had its faults; hypocrisy was one, certainly, and another was a kind of cynical indifference to the absolutes of both good and evil. But it was a stable world in its mediocrity and its studied pretenses. It was predictable. Surely she had been naive, though, to think of it as the normal world. In the strange universe she had glimpsed today, anything was possible.
I’ve had to come to a similar realization lately. There is a whole other world out there where people think differently than I do. It’s not a pleasant realization, and it comes with an equally unpleasant sense of powerlessnes. But it makes me feel a little better to read about someone experiencing the same thing. Though I gave the same grade to Witch as I’ve been giving to most of the books in this binge, it is my favorite so far.