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The Witch's Trinity

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3.48  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,083 Ratings  ·  205 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
ebook, 0 pages
Published September 25th 2007 by Crown (first published January 1st 2007)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Shaun
Feb 23, 2014 Shaun rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2014
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
Jun 25, 2008 Theresa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Kemble
Jan 22, 2008 Kemble rated it it was amazing  ·  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.
Linda C.
Aug 13, 2008 Linda C. rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Jo
Mar 30, 2011 Jo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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 really liked it  ·  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
Pam
Jan 19, 2016 Pam rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a strange book, that I thoroughly enjoyed. This book was a perfect fairy tale/historical fiction all rolled into one. I really loved it. I felt like I got a true sense of what life would be like in the early 1500's in Germany, and a really really good sense of what witch trials would have been like to witness and experience. I love that the book wraps up nicely without leaving any loose ends. Very exciting story, and a very believable ending. I hope to be able to read more by Mailmain in th ...more
Christopher
Dec 03, 2015 Christopher rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: EVERYONE
Recommended to Christopher by: Goodreads
Shelves: related-books
I have read a lot of novels within the horror genre, but Erika Mailman’s work of historical-fiction, The Witch’s Trinity, is one of the most horrific, terrifying, and powerful pieces I have ever read. Less than 300 pages, this book encapsulates the potential of evil within us as a species, and exemplifies the kinds of atrocities we – as human beings – are able and willing to commit against one another. It is in this point that the book and its story are relevant; though the novel is set during t ...more
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
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
Donna
May 26, 2009 Donna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009
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
Sylvia
May 10, 2008 Sylvia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 25, 2007 Beth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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?
Joe Santoro
Jan 25, 2016 Joe Santoro rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't really have any idea if the depictions in this book of a peasant village in 1500s Germany are historically accurate, or if the witch trial histronics depicted (which match those of the more popular Salem witch trials) really happened, but this is a really well written story.

The author does a fantastic job of capturing the main character (an old woman) and describing what she experiences... be it actual witches covens in the woods, waking dreams, or hunger delusions. There's also some rea
...more
Jennifer Laam
Dec 17, 2015 Jennifer Laam rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Witch’s Trinity was an amazing book and I devoured it in two sittings. This novel is both well told, with lovely, evocative language, and paced so brilliantly you can’t put it down. I found the main character, Güde, utterly engrossing. Though she experienced horrific events, I enjoyed her company and was desperate to know what would become of her in the end.
In addition to being a wonderfully absorbing work of fiction, Mailman’s writing casts needed light on a shameful part of our history an
...more
J.C.
Jul 09, 2015 J.C. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A well written tale about how desperation leads people to desperate and cruel acts.
Kat
Jul 10, 2014 Kat rated it really liked it  ·  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
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
Oct 20, 2012 Sabina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Heather Muzik
Sep 01, 2013 Heather Muzik rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I happened to pick up this book and start reading while I was already reading The Crucible. Pure coincidence. But fortunate coincidence. Somehow it made this story resonate even deeper and truer to me. I have professed my love for historical fiction before (and I will continue to do so)... and this story solidifies that love all over again.

The tale is quick moving while at the same time it carries such weight that it is stunning. Truly transporting. There is a point in the story where the chara
...more
Susan Spann
Mar 10, 2012 Susan Spann rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-by-friends
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
Feb 27, 2009 Lauralee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Becky
Sep 03, 2012 Becky rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hist-fiction, drama
A really tense story focusing on the craze for witch hunts in Europe following the publication of the Witches Hammer. This works on the idea that it was largely useless members of communities that were targeted, at least during times of hardship. The main plot device is that an unwanted mother-in-law, who is seen as just an extra mouth to feed, and who is suffering from memory lapses due to her age and to malnutrition, is a likely and almost acceptable target. An interesting twist towards the en ...more
Gina
Jan 21, 2012 Gina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Set in a small German hamlet in the 16th century, Mailman uses sparse, beautiful language to recreate the conditions in a town that is slowly starving to death, filled with neighbors who have laughed, loved and grieved together for years,who suddenly turn against each other in their desperation.

The Catholic Church, limited understanding of the world around them, and lingering superstition of the Dark Ages come together in a perfect storm and give rise to the trails of witchcraft that swept throu
...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
Kari
This was okay but slightly predictable. The story was an interesting one, exploring how quickly fear can escalate and the lengths people will go to out of jealousy or for self preservation. It was slightly stereotypical and clichÃd with the rich friar who exhibits pleasure in the torture of women, the accusation levelled at the old woman with a knowledge of herbs and how the idea that once the male voices of reason leave the village, the women resort to tearing each other apart. I'm reading a bo ...more
Melissa
Jan 09, 2011 Melissa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: caffeine, swapped
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
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witch hunts 2 11 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...

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“I didn't know what I thought of heaven above us or hell deep below, the fires supposed to be constantly stoked and tended. I was afraid to tell her what I feared: that both places were kingdoms of air...And for all the praying I've done in my life, I fear that prayers are bits of grain the birds drop to the wind.” 1 likes
“If a fox shall bear down upon the rabbit and take its neck between its teeth, the rabbit shall understand, for the rabbit itself bites down upon the grasses of the field. And as the large insect eats the smaller, it too is eaten, by a bird that flushes down from the air to complete a cycle.” 0 likes
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