Thursday, October 23, 2014

Review: The Penguin Book of Witches edited by Katherine Howe and Giveaway!

The Penguin Book of Witches
Editor:  Katherine Howe
Publisher:  Penguin Classics, September 30, 2014
Format:  Trade Paperback and eBook, 320 pages
List Price: $17.00 (print)
ISBN:  9780143106180 (print)
Review Copy:  Provided by the Publisher

Chilling real-life accounts of witches, from medieval Europe through colonial America, compiled by the New York Times bestselling author of The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane and Conversion

From a manual for witch hunters written by King James himself in 1597, to court documents from the Salem witch trials of 1692, to newspaper coverage of a woman stoned to death on the streets of Philadelphia while the Continental Congress met, The Penguin Book of Witches is a treasury of historical accounts of accused witches that sheds light on the reality behind the legends. Bringing to life stories like that of Eunice Cole, tried for attacking a teenage girl with a rock and buried with a stake through her heart; Jane Jacobs, a Bostonian so often accused of witchcraft that she took her tormentors to court on charges of slander; and Increase Mather, an exorcism-performing minister famed for his knowledge of witches, this volume provides a unique tour through the darkest history of English and North American witchcraft.

Stacey's Thoughts

There is no better time to be reading about witches than right before Halloween! The Penguin Book of Witches is not a short story collection about witches.  It is a nonfiction collection of documents dating back to 1584-1813. This is excellent supplemental reading who anyone who is fascinated by the Salem Witch Trials and witchcraft in early North America. And interesting side note: Do you know who this book is edited by? The totally awesome Katherine Howe! Not only is she an amazing author herself (The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, 2009) Howe is the direct descendant of three accused Salem Witches. So cool!

Howe is a professor and prefaces each document with a summary, which I found very helpful. Reading three hundred year old legal documents is not my forte, so I was very grateful for some assistance. This is not a day-by-day account of the Salem Trials but shows how embedded the belief in witchcraft was during those times. I was intrigued to learn that witchcraft was usually seen as a legal problem and not a social or religious problem (until Salem.) I also learned about the beliefs about witchcraft that the early Americans brought over from England.

Howe guides you through different legal cases and remarks on what was typical and atypical about each trial. There is also a wonderful section entitled “After Salem” where apologies of participants of the Trials were published. There were witchcraft trials after Salem, and I’d like to say that they weren’t as bad as the Salem Trials, but that wouldn’t be true. You become very aware of the deaths of the accused, especially by reading their words. They are no longer just names on a page or a depiction by an actor or actress. Witchcraft fascinates many people, myself included. This gave me a healthy dose of the reality of the Salem Trials and the mindset of the people of the time by also including public writings about the subject. This is a great book that's not just for Halloween and it will stay on my bookshelf permanently!

The Giveaway

What:  One entrant will win a copy of The Penguin Book of Witches edited by Katherine Howe from Penguin Classics. US/CANADA ONLY

How:  Log into and follow the directions in the Rafflecopter below.

Who and When:  The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a US or Canadian mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59 PM US Eastern Time on October 31, 2014. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

*Giveaway rules and duration are subject to change without any notice.*

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  1. Bewitched!!! and Sabrina the Teenage Witch :) Thanks for sharing!

  2. Favorite witch books would be The Witches of East End (yes I have the dvd's also) and tv show would be Bewitched.

  3. I really enjoyed the movie The Witches of Eastwick. Jack Nicholson was so good and those girls were wonderful. Thanks

  4. I am a big fan of the TV series, Charmed.

  5. Newbery Medal winner, The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare!