Title: The Penguin Book of Witches
Editor: Katherine Howe
2014 – Adult Nonfiction – History
The Story: In The Penguin Book of Witches, Howe has collected a number of original source documents from history to demonstrate the power and impact of the Salem Witch Trials. These documents include everything from a witch hunting manual written by King James to Salem court documents to post-Salem colonial accounts. In addition, Howe prefaces each document with a description adding context.
What I Loved: It’s a book containing actual historical documents pertaining to witches, a concept which I find fascinating.
What I Didn’t Love: These are documents and treatises written between 1500 and 1800. That means they are written in a style that can be very hard to read today. So this is more on me than the book, but it was hard going and I got bored A LOT. I even considered giving up for a while.
Final Thoughts: I’ve never read Kafka’s The Trial, but I imagine it is very similar to some of the court documents from Salem. Just ridiculous. I have a better understanding now (I think) about the pressures that the women would have felt to confess, because they were being hounded and besieged by repetitious charges and questions. So even though I didn’t enjoy the book as a whole, it was educational and I feel like I learned quite a bit.