The Witches

3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5) The Witches: Salem, 1692 – Stacy Schiff

This one has been on my shelf for a few months and ‘non-fiction’ November seemed like the perfect time to finally read it! There were some things I liked about this book but unfortunately, there were a number of things that made it a difficult read hence, the 3 star review.

I have read Stacy Schiff’s historical writing before and have found it very readable; however, this book was difficult to get through. She attempted to provide the reader with a well-rounded narrative from various perspectives, which in theory, is a fantastic way to write history, however, in this case she tried to do too much. There were too many perspectives for the reader to attempt to keep straight and I often found myself asking who’s who, and how is this person related/involved in the main story? This made grasping the story of the Salem witch trials difficult and frustrating at times. I think this history could have benefited from being told from only a couple perspectives, which can be limiting for the historian trying to tell a full and nuanced historical narrative, but it certainly helps the reader to more fully engage the writing and the story.

One unique and kind-of awesome thing that Schiff did in her writing was, she relayed events in the manner in which they were understood/interpreted by the individuals at the time. So the actions of the witches were told as if they were actually happening just as they were told. So witches flew on sticks across land and ocean and curses were placed on people which explained any strange happenings etc. These events were treated as fact, just as they were by the people conducting and involved in the Salem witch trials. It was a very interesting way for an historian to write about supernatural occurrences and I found it fascinating. 

If you want to read an in-depth history of the participants and events of the Salem witch trials this is a good place to start. If you’d rather read a narrative story/history than I would not recommend this particular book. 

Read on my friends!

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