Mary turns out to be a cagey and difficult patient. Dr. Hammer begins to suspect she concocted her tale of abduction when he discovers its parallels with a 17th-century narrative of a girl who was abducted by Indians and later caused her rescuer to be hanged as a witch. Eager to further his professional reputation, Hammer decides to write a book about Mary's faked abduction, a project her mother sanctions because she'd rather her daughter be a liar than a rape victim.
Fifteen years later, Mary returns to Boston for her mother's funeral. Her abduction, real or imagined, has tainted many lives, including her own. When she finds a suggestive letter sent to her mother, she suspects her mother planned a reconciliation before her death. Thus begins a quest that requires Mary to revisit the people and places in her past.
The Uses of Enchantment weaves a spell in which the power of a young woman's sexuality, and her desire to wield it, has a devastating effect on all involved. The riveting cat-and-mouse power games between doctor and patient, and between abductor and abductee, are gradually, dreamily revealed, along with the truth about what actually happened in 1985.
Heidi Julavits is in full command of her considerable gifts, and has crafted a dazzling narrative sure to garner her further acclaim as one of the best novelists working today.
"The mystery of what did happen to Mary Veal will enthrall the reader to the very last page." (Publishers Weekly)