The Witch's Trinity
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The Witch's Trinity

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3.47 of 5 stars 3.47  ·  rating details  ·  843 ratings  ·  180 reviews
The year is 1507, and a friar has arrived in Tierkinddorf, a remote German village nestled deeply in the woods. The village has been suffering a famine, and the villagers are desperately hungry. The friar's arrival is a miracle, and when he claims he can restore the town to prosperity, the men and women gathered to hear him rejoice. The friar has a book called the Malleus...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published March 5th 2009 by Hodder Paperbacks (first published January 1st 2007)
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Shaun
I bought this book at a consignment shop for a dollar because I thought both the cover and title were intriguing.

AND...it was okay.

The story takes place in sixteenth century rural Germany at a time when Christianity is slowly replacing, or rather merging with, pagan traditions.

The story is told by Gude, an aging widow, who is probably suffering from something like Alzheimers further complicated by inadequate nutrition. As such Gude's narrative is completely rational and lucid at one moment and d...more
Theresa
It's so rare to find a first-person book told from the perspective of an elder woman. Novels about the witch hunts of Europe are particularly compelling given the high percentage of women, especially older women, who were killed as witches. To read a novel where the action takes place through the eyes of such an elder was emotionally wrenching. The most effective part of the book was the depiction of how younger women were so quick to turn on the old, and how though the punishment was meted out...more
Jessica
Hysteria, paranoia, jealousy, and false accusations. You get all those emotions and actions in this book, with a few sprinklings of happy memories and hope in one bleak situation after another.
I do have to say, though - there was one scene that actually had me cringing and worried about losing my lunch. Erika Mailman described the scene - removal of bandages after the stone test - in such a way that I felt every tear of skin, heard every scream, and smelled each new smell.
I probably would have...more
Eileen Phillips
Feb 03, 2008 Eileen Phillips rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people interested in the salem witch trials, and seeing humanity at its worst
I was wandering the store looking for something to read, and I was considering An American Dream by Norman Mailer, but then this book caught my eye. It is told from the point of view of an old woman in a little German village in the late 1500's. She lives with her son, his wife, and their daughter and son. They are in their second year of no harvest and a friar comes from a bigger city to find the witch that has caused the blight. Fearing her daughter will accuse her to get rid of a mouth to f...more
Kemble
Jan 22, 2008 Kemble rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Erika Mailman's novel about witch burnings in 1507 Germany is so compelling you'll feel like you can smell the smoke from the pyre. It's also a vivid reminder of what happens when religious leaders twist the tenets of their faiths for their own evil agendas. This is historical fiction that turns out to be remarkably timely.
Chris
The Witch's Trinity seems to have been written in part as a reaction to the author's discovery that she had ancestress accused of witchcraft (she beat the charge, twice). In many ways, it is similar to that great novel written in response to the witchcraft trials, The Scarlet Letter.

In his book, Hawthorne mediates on sin and what constitutes the worst sin. He presents us with a trinity of sins (Hester's, Dimmesdale's, and Chillingworth's). He looks at how the society of the time, how the reader,...more
Linda C.
Aug 13, 2008 Linda C. rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: lovers of historical fiction
A haunting tale of paranoia and fanaticism.


Human nature can be strange. The mentality of a mob for example, shows how brutal people can become when surrounded by others who are filled with passionate anger.

Erika Mailman shows us through the eyes of an elderly woman what it would have been like to live in the Middle Ages when witchcraft was thought to be the cause of any misfortune.

The famine described in this small village of Tierkinddorf, Germany is haunting. It made me feel strange reading the...more
Donna
This was another quickish read, about a small German village in the 1500s where the crops have failed and everyone is starving. The problems are blamed on witchcraft and the culprit is sought.

False accusations start to fly and an innocent woman is tortured and burned because she is the village's eldest resident and also the healer so she must be a witch. When her death changes nothing, the villagers start whispering to the friar about who it may be and others are sentenced on the flimsiest of ev...more
Jo
Wonderful historical novel centred around a village in 16th century Germany. The 'church' rides in brandishing its crosses and hoping for the torture and murder of poor women accused of witchcraft. By preying on poor people's ignorance they soon have their victims in the elderly 'wise woman' and her friend. This novel highlights the misogynism and methods of fear the church have used throughout the centuries to control the masses. The story centres around Gude, an elderly woman whose daughter in...more
Sylvia
I really enjoyed this book. Set in the early 1500's in a small village in Germany sticken with famine, a Friar arrives to this town to uncover the evil witches that are causing God to punish the village. He has a book called "Malleus Maleficarum" (this book really existed) aka "The Witch's Hammer" which is a guide to gain witches confessions. They author traced her roots to relatives that where actually accused of witchcraft during this disturbing period of our history. A good read.
Beth
Germany, 1507. A frail grandmother in a small village is accused of witch-craft. Some interesting perspectives...are there only starving desperate people who need explanations for their hard times or is there witchcraft in the village?
Kechelle

There seems to be a sea of information on the internet about Erika Mailman, most are snippets. I can’t pinpoint exact details. http://www.erikamailman.com/about-erika/ this is Erika’s web page and the best place to find out more. Since I can’t find the correct information, I won’t go into the writer’s bio.

The witch’s Trinity takes place in Germany 1507, over the course of a hard winter that has brought famine to the land. The villagers are starved and wrought with desperation. A friar comes to...more
Sabina
It's a long harsh winter in Germany in 1507 and after several years of failed harvests famine stalks the countryside. Hunger and dispair makes people look for scapegoats and single elderly women are the obvious target. Irmeltrud sees the perfect opportunity to get rid of her mother-in-law Guede, who she thinks is just another mouth to feed. Pointing the finger can backfire though and quickly accusations of witchcraft are flying and the whole town is in uproar.

This was very well told, vividly im...more
Traci
This is an excellent book.

It was a bit slow in the beginning (for the first twenty pages or so, anyway) and to be honest I thought my general dislike of Irmeltrud as a character would spoil the whole book for me. It didn't.

This novel touches on several sensitive subjects: treatment of the elderly, gender equality, and religious persecution being the big three.

One of the things that usually turns me off in a novel that's in English but about a different country is that sometimes, the author over...more
Justin
This is a grim book, though its bleakness is mitigated somewhat by its short length. At under 300 pages, The Witch's Trinity offers a nightmarish parable rather than an epic, and in my opinion is just the right length, as any more story would likely be too depressing to take. As it is, the book is entertaining in its delivery and fascinating in its layered message.

The story takes place in 16th century Germany, in a small village wracked by famine. The narrator is an elderly woman named Gude who...more
Susan Spann
This book took hold of me on page 1 and didn’t let up. Güde is an engaging narrator, and Mailman made the challenging decision to give her narrator a touch of either insanity or dementia (probably the latter), which causes Güde to have visions and strange dreams caused by age, Alzheimer’s, starvation, or all three. Mailman stays true to Güde’s point of view, which means that the reader perceives the story in “real time” and must work through the visions as Güde does. The book is extremely well-w...more
Lauralee
Mailman's narrator is Güda, a self-described "old woman" who yearns for the peace and end to the cold and hunger that death will bring. She's outlived most of her friends in her 16th Century German village and finds herself marginalized, the object of blame, hate and suspicion, during a winter of famine. Enter the Friar, a cruel, sadistic, self-righteous witch-hunter, anxious to rid the town of the source of its troubles by holding a good ol' fashioned witch-burning. But who to burn?

Beautifully...more
Ashley Logan
I have always found the Salem Witch Trials very interesting. The fact that some things were blamed on witch craft is sad to me. To think of all of the people who were killed that had done no wrong. The fact that preachers and judges had the right to punish these people is even more disheartening. I had never heard of any witch trials other than Salem. This story is set in Germany. It follows a small town through its hardship and famine. People that were starving started to blame two older women...more
Philip
I wish we had half-stars, since then I could give this book 2 and a half instead of three. It is certainly a quick read, but not an easy one, as we follow the narrative of an elder woman in late medieval Germany whose village is searching for explanations for terrible famine and finding them in charges of witchcraft. The author skillfully evokes the claustrophobic atmosphere of a small community torn by mortal accusations even against neighbors and within families. The protagonist is forgetful a...more
Carole
What would you do if your nasty daughter-in-law accuses you of being a witch (and could be burned at the stake) as her family is starving and you're just another hungry mouth to feed? This is the horrific death that could befall Gude, the storyteller. She has already seen the terrible repercussions of the villagers accusations towards her best friend Gunne, and she desperately tries to avoid suffering the same fate.

I found this book absolutely fascinating and it certainly made me think about the...more
Abby
one of my many obsessions is witches. this means that i've read almost everything there is to read about witches/witch hunts, whether fiction or non-fiction. this is by far the best fiction book about witch hunting that i've read. part of what was so incredible was that you never really find out if the woman being persecuted is innocent, a witch, senile, or a combination of all three. she herself admits that her mind isn't what it used to be, and forgets her sons name/loses her way/confuses time...more
Jess
I bought this book up on a whim, read it on a whim, and was very impressed. I've read a few "witch hunt" novels and been underwhelmed, but this was a first class read and I credit Mailman's unique elderly female main character.

Gude's perspective had me confused at times to the extent that I was on the verge of disliking the book for containing unnecessary plot points. But understanding came to me by the time I finished the novel and I might urge other readers who might consider themselves "a bi...more
Aelel
I was intrigued by this book since it's historical fiction based on witch hunts in Germany. I finished the book, not out of a great desire to find out what happens, but because I just wanted it to be over. The storyline was hopelessly repetitive, and frankly too obvious. The history surrounding the story didn't really include any new tidbits that the general public wouldn't know. It was just the same old stuff you hear time and again. it would have been much better if more little known history h...more
Kat
Jul 10, 2014 Kat rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People interested in witch trials
As they light the pyre, I swear that I can hear the wood crackling and screaming . I cry as they cheer around the fire, driven by greed, hate and fear. But she doesn’t scream, she won’t give them satisfaction. Finally, she crumples to the ground and they let the fire “purify” her. Her fate after that is to be buried in an unmarked grave where no one will remember her. Forgotten by all. I clenched by teeth and threw the book clear across the room (and apparently the author is happy that I did so,...more
Mark Wiederanders
With a spare, clean writing style that manages to evoke a long-past era, the author takes us into a world of fear, desperation, superstition and an appalling misuse of religious belief that wreaks havoc on its victims. I was completely absorbed in this world of witch hunts that, sadly, keep revisiting the world in different eras, forms and from different sources. The sympathetic character Gude Miller, aged to the point of cloudy thinking (dementia, we might now call it), acts suspiciously enough...more
Emma
When reading the back, I really thought I would enjoy this, but was disapointed. I found it hard to understand as to whether Gude was loosing her mind or what really. I can see why the witch hunts got out of hand with everyone accusing each other. Some of the scenes were a bit gruesome with torture or tests as they put it. It is hard to believe that this actually went on.
Helen
Totally engrossing novel, all the more powerful for being written from a first-person perspective, that of an elderly woman accused of witchcraft. Quite emotional too, as I couldn't help but think of real women who would have endured similar experiences and frequently met with a far worse fate.
Compelling and vividly imagined, a highly recommended read.
Nicol
Rarely is the main character someone who is older from the beginning of the book, here in this tale, we get the perspective of elder. But if you are looking for witchcraft and fantasy, look elsewhere. This novel is more about how communities can turn against each other and especially women in the name of religion in times of hardship. Set in 1500's in Germany, the author takes us to a small community suffering from famine - and with the introduction of priest claiming he can cure the fields for...more
Jordan
A fantastic book about how church dogma can turn an entire town against its own people under the ludicrous claims of witchcraft--but this tale feels fresh despite the topic having been written about before. The characters are vividly rendered (as well as the sixteenth century language!) and the plot breathless.
Angie
Mailman has a strong voice and a vivid engaging cast of characters. This is a fascinating exploration of the widespread witchcraft trials that affected so many lives in medieval Europe. The ending was surprising, yet satisfying. Highly recommended historical fiction.
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witch hunts 2 10 May 02, 2012 06:21PM  
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Erika Mailman is the author of The Witch's Trinity (Random House, 2007), a novel about a medieval woman accused of witchcraft, and Woman of Ill Fame (Heyday Books, 2007), about a Gold Rush prostitute. She has also published two non-fiction books about Oakland history, and is a columnist for the Montclarion newspaper in Oakland. She is a graduate of the MFA program in poetry at the University of Ar...more
More about Erika Mailman...
Woman of Ill Fame Oakland Hills (Images of America: California) Oakland's Neighborhoods

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