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Conversion

Narrated by: Khristine Hvam
Length: 13 hrs and 31 mins
Categories: Teens, Ages 11-13
3.5 out of 5 stars (142 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

From the New York Times best-selling author of The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane comes a chilling mystery - Prep meets The Crucible.

It's senior year at St. Joan's Academy, and school is a pressure cooker. College applications, the battle for valedictorian, deciphering boys' texts: Through it all, Colleen Rowley and her friends are expected to keep it together. Until they can't.

First it's the school's queen bee, Clara Rutherford, who suddenly falls into uncontrollable tics in the middle of class. Her mystery illness quickly spreads to her closest clique of friends, then more students and symptoms follow: Seizures, hair loss, violent coughing fits. St. Joan's buzzes with rumor; rumor blossoms into full-blown panic.

Soon the media descends on Danvers, Massachusetts, as everyone scrambles to find something, or someone, to blame. Pollution? Stress? Or are the girls faking? Only Colleen - who's been reading The Crucible for extra credit - comes to realize what nobody else has: Danvers was once Salem Village, where another group of girls suffered from a similarly bizarre epidemic three centuries ago.

Inspired by true events, from seventeenth-century colonial life to the halls of a modern-day high school, Conversion casts a spell. With her signature wit and passion, Katherine Howe delivers an exciting and suspenseful novel, a chilling mystery that raises the question, what's really happening to the girls at St. Joan's?

©2014 Katherine Howe; 2014 Penguin Audio

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    2 out of 5 stars

good character wasted on mediocre story

What would have made Conversion better?

Another ending.

Would you ever listen to anything by Katherine Howe again?

Maybe. But I read the summaries of her other book - once again about the Salem witches. Seems kinda repetative.

Have you listened to any of Khristine Hvam’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No. But I liked her. Especially when she did Wheez's (the main character's baby sister) voice. It was adorable.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Conversion?

Anything that had to do with Emma. I really loathed her character. And everything that revolved around her.
And the last sentence of the book. That's just messing with the reader.

Any additional comments?

I very much liked most of the book - the parts that were about modern times. but those interludes - they were boring! I almost audiably groaned, I think, every time when one of the started. It took self-control not to skroll past them.
Also, I think the media-obsession unfolded too quickly. I mean - a couple of girls fainted - and people are talking about an epidemic?! Come on!!

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Angi
  • 16365
  • 02-26-19

Love<br />d it!

Conversion by Katherine Howe

Read by Kristine Hvam

Reviewed by Angi


I found Katherine through an event she was speaking in Erie PA "Salem Witch Hunts and Women: A Look at the History of Class and Gender,"


So of course since I was going to see her I had to check out her books. I ordered them all because well come on it's me and books, and there may be a slight addiction there. Anyway, while I waited for them to come in I checked out audible and lot and behold Conversion was there and narrated any my favorite narrator! So yeah, that's where I started.


Conversion is a modern day telling of The Crucible. It's set in Danvers Massachusetts where the original Salam trials happened. The girls are modern high schoolers with typical school girl stress. Between social cliques and prepping for college terms, hoping to get into the schools of their choosing there is a massive amount of stress. Add to it these girls are top of the class, they know their GPAs to the tenth of a point. Even one pop quiz can through a wrench into the plans.


Suddenly there are girls having seizures, losing hair, and many other symptoms. Soon the press and health departments are involved. Is there a patient zero? Is this for attention? Now there send to be an awful lot of similarities to The Crucible. But what's real? How easy is it to repeat or historical disasters? Not only are we learning of the modern story but between chapters we get a glimpse of the past. The interludes take us back to the beginning of the panic and hysteria if the Salem Panic.


This book is well written by someone who has clearly  done her historical research. The detail and back and forth from present to past is seamless.


The story drew me in from the beginning and kept new hooked throughout the entire book. I highly recommend not only this book but to listen to the audible as Khristine Hvam has a am amazing talent of bringing great stories to life.


I have already started another of Katherine's books. I think I've found another great story teller to follow! And as much as enjoyed her book listening to her on stage was just as great. She is not just a great author but a great speaker and scholar. If you have a chance to go to one of her lectures jump on it!


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  • CB
  • 11-21-17

Should be called &quot;Waiting For Something to Happen&quot;

I read this book on a recommendation from a friend. She is a media specialist and hadn't read the book, but she said it seemed interesting to her. I started reading the hardcover and after initially putting it down, I picked up the audiobook a few months later. This book starts great and started with an interesting conflict right away. The performance of the main character Colleen is well done, and it makes her character relatable.

However, this book then changes perspective to a girl in Salem during the Salem Witch Trials. The speaker during these sections (which seemed to happen all too frequently) tried to have an accent, either British or early American. Either way, it was really obnoxious to listen to because it was so inconsistent. The same words were always said five different ways. Ugh.

The overall book seemed to have a lot happening... until all the action suddenly stopped about halfway through. Nothing seemed to be advancing the story. I finally realized that I only had about an hour left, and still, nothing happened and there was no end in sight as far as tying up loose ends. The ending seems very slapdash and thrown together, and I was left feeling disappointed overall.

As a middle school English teacher, I would have a hard time recommending this to a student. The different points of view seem disjointed, never really connecting in any clear way, and I ended up feeling let down at the end. The audiobook performances were annoying at times, and I would not want to listen to something performed by the same actress. Unfortunately, this book has an original idea, but it was poorly executed.

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Recommending to my friends

What did you love best about Conversion?

Quite intriguing and kept my interest to the end.

What did you like best about this story?

It was thought provoking and found myself thinking about the story premise long after I finished listening to it.

What does Khristine Hvam bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

She brought the story to life with her vocal characterization of each person in Salem Village and Danvers, CT.