If I have to pick out of five stars, I’m giving this one a hard 3.5. I picked up this book on my honeymoon while visiting Salem, and really wanted to read more into this interesting historic topic.
This book went into the lives of six women who were involved, in one way or another, in the Salem Witch Trials. From a few women who were accused of witchcraft – some of whom were convicted and hung, others who got off – to women who were on the other side of the bar, doing the accusing. It’s an interesting look into the lives of each of these women and their unique situations and how things went for them and their families, before, during and after the trials.
One thing I have to note that the author did well here was making sure to cover a wide spectrum of society at the time. From those who were at the “bottom” of society and accused, to those in the middle-class, and even upper-class, who were, in one way or another, impacted – the author did a great job of fair, consistent coverage all around.
But the beginning of the book was…. intense. It was incredibly detail-oriented, almost to a fault, and this made it really heavy and at times, difficult to read. There were times when I wanted to put the book down and give it up, but I pushed myself through it. The ‘introductory’ part of the book was a lot to get through, but if you can get to the historical timeline portion, it’s a little easier to digest from that point on.
I have to admit, there were at least a small handful of times over the course of the book that I sat down and just shook my head. It’s incredibly hard to look back on such a tragic time in history and read about everything that happened then. But it’s even more surreal to read it now, knowing all we now know about medicine, etc. Reading about these women whose children died very young (rest in peace, the poor souls) and reading about how it was assumed this had something to do with witchcraft…. babies crying all the time, getting sick early on…. these were taken as signs of witchcraft, but realistically, probably had more to do with factors like nutrition, cleanliness and the atmosphere of the times.
(Okay, I also can’t believe women had SO many children back then. No thank you!)
At any rate, if you find the Salem witch trials and that period in history to be interesting, and you’d like to learn more, why not give this book a spin? Even if it was difficult to digest at times, it was an interesting portrayal of the events of that period, and I’d certainly recommend it to all who want to learn a little more about that time in history.