Book Review: Montooth and the Canfield Witch by Robert Jay

Montooth and the Canfield Witch
Robert Jay
Cloverleaf Corporation, 2009
ISBN No. 978-0615296456
Hardcover

Carty Anderson and her “Crew” give the readers a peek into life in the fifties in Winter Free, Florida.   Carty (Catherine “Carty” Andersson) is a 14 years old girl who has learned a lot from spending time with her Dad.  Her friends Blake Holmes, Hale Wending and Maximilian “Mack” Stein make up the group known as “The Crew”.

Carty had agreed that she would help her Aunt Lilly with the housework since Aunt Lilly had fallen and broken her arm.  It was a seven-mile ride on Carty’s bicycle from Aunt Lilly’s home to Carty’s house and she had stayed a little too long.  Aunt Lilly told Carty of a short cut between Duck Luck and Morose Swamp so Carty decided to take the short cut, which Aunt Lilly said, would take her out by the old Hostetter’s house.  The house had been vacant since the death of Cora Hostetter.  Aunt Lilly also told Carty about Sally Canfield, the woman who lived next to the Hostetter property.   People in the area thought that Sally Canfield was a witch.  Carty reminded her Aunt Lilly that it was 1950 and there just weren’t any witches around.  At least Carty did not believe that there was a witch living nearby.

On her way home using the short cut Carty spotted Sally Canfield in her yard.  She also noticed two men who seemed to be watching Sally.  Carty managed to sneak away after she scared the two men and the men wound up being chased by a giant gator.

Back at school, the next day Carty’s teacher Mrs. Tryon explained a field exam that would constitute 50% of the credit on their botany final exam.   The students were to divide into groups and the groups were to find specimens of native Florida vegetation.   Carty and her crew determined that they would have the best luck searching through the swamp.  So began the adventure of Carty and her crew.

The search led them close to the Canfield house and the group met up with Sally Canfield who had many stories to tell the group.  The men that Carty had spotted in the swamp earlier were still lurking around.  It seems the men felt that Sally Canfield had a fortune hidden somewhere on her property.

Montooth and the Canfield Witch is an exciting tale that brings out a lot of history of the area and brings to light old legends.  The one I enjoyed the most was the tale of Green Duck.  The references to times in the 50’s prompted the author to place “End Notes” in the back of the book explaining many phrases not heard often in current times.  One example is the word Mercurochrome.  Mercurochrome used to be used for any scrape or bruise but mercurochrome was removed from distribution in the United States due to its mercury content.

Although this book is primarily a young adult novel, readers of any age group can enjoy the story.

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid, January 2011.