Title – The Witches
Author – Stacy Schiff
Publication Date – October 29th 2015 by Weidenfeld & Nicolson
ISBN – 9781474602242
My Rating – ★★★/5
“It began in 1692, over a raw Massachusetts winter, when a minister’s daughter started to scream and convulse. The panic spread quickly – neighbours accused neighbours, husbands accused wives, parents and children one another. It ended less than a year later, but not before nineteen men and women had been hanged and an elderly man crushed to death”
I decided to use the synopsis on the back of the book because this is what drew me to the book in the first place and I didn’t think I could sum it up in a better way. I’ve never read anything about the Salem Witch Trials before but I’ve obviously heard of them.
I received a copy of The Witches from Hachette New Zealand to review. It took me a while to get into this, because I hardly ever read biographies or history books. But the story hooked me and I couldn’t put it down.
I’m still so confused why all these adults took the “afflicted” girls stories as the truth, that all these “witches” were attacking them. I just thought they were making it all up. It sounded so false. Why were they not accused of being possessed by demons or something? That seemed a bit more likely. Obviously I live in the 21st century and have no idea what it was like back in the 16oo’s with the fear of being accused of witch craft, knowing it meant months of waiting in a hellish prison and more than likely, being hanged… So I don’t think I can say how I’d handle that, but for me it all seemed so stupid. A waste of time, money and innocent lives.
While I was reading about some of the trials I’m sure Schiff mentioned
more than once that the court papers were missing/never found, most of them anyway. I think they tried covering it all up to protect themselves because they murdered so many people for nothing. But it doesn’t seem like many of them thought what they did was wrong. Crushing a man to death is horrible. I could barely read about it with out cringing, I’ve no idea how people stood and watched that poor man die and the hangings. Not to mention raiding the accused’s homes and expecting bribes to stop them from taking the land. Horrible, horrible people!
I did enjoy reading The Witches, despite how I feel about what happened. It was maddening, crazy and disturbing in places but still a really good read. I especially liked that Schiff mentioned that Louisa May Alcott and Walt Disney are descended from families associated with the Trials or the accused.
I was surprised how fast I read this considering it’s not the kind of book I usually choose but I’m really glad I did. I need to start reading different kinds of books instead of the same genres all the time.