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The Witch's Trinity

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3.56  ·  Rating details ·  1,632 ratings  ·  263 reviews
“A gripping, well-told story of faith and truth.”
—Khaled Hosseini, bestselling author of The Kite Runner

“A disturbingly effective historical novel.”
Boston Globe

“Beautifully written, nary a word out of place, and with a few moments that throw you beyond—the way good books do ... deeply satisfying.”
San Francisco Chronicle

San Francisco Chronicle Notable Book of 2007

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Paperback, 288 pages
Published October 7th 2008 by Broadway Books (first published September 25th 2007)
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Average rating 3.56  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,632 ratings  ·  263 reviews


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Theresa
Jun 16, 2008 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
Shaun
Feb 17, 2014 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 ra
...more
Kemble
Jan 22, 2008 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.
Jo
Jul 11, 2009 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
Helena
Dec 16, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
You can find my review here: http://embracingmybooks.blogspot.be/2...
Linda C.
Aug 13, 2008 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 hau
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Christopher
Apr 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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 the first decad ...more
Pam
Jan 17, 2016 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
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 so
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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
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Kristy Lin Billuni
Usually, authors are good at one or the other: rich, engaging characters or read-all-night plots.
But though Erica Mailman is a master of character-driven voice, her plot skills are sharp too.
I blazed through this book in a reading fever. Her 14th Century German witches are just as exciting as her Gold Rush hookers. Her old women are just as entertaining as her young ones. Her narrative maintains a deep intimacy with the main character, and no character is all good or all bad. Her descript
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Eileen Phillips
Feb 03, 2008 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 feed, certain ...more
Christine
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, and
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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 nam
...more
Donna
May 07, 2009 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 fli
...more
Sylvia
May 05, 2008 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 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?
J.C.
Jun 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
A well written tale about how desperation leads people to desperate and cruel acts.
Milliebot
This is a solid little piece of historical fiction about witchcraft in Germany in the early 1500s. The story follows Gude, an elderly woman who lives with her son and spiteful daughter-in-law and their two children. She's suffering from what's probably Alzheimers or Dementia (sorry, I don't know much about either) around the same time that a friar comes to their little town to sniff out witches. The town has been starving after several seasons of bad harvest and the people are looking for someon ...more
GoodlyWitch
May 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Faith and truth battle in this fictionalized account of an ancestor of the author, who was accused of witchcraft in the 1600’s and was tried twice (and possibly a third time) and acquitted. Often magical, at times the story is shockingly disturbing in its depiction of the cruelties inherent in the Catholic church’s methods of inquisition in the witch trials, it ends with an unexpected twist.

While time and history will never erase the cruel and superstitious insanity of the burning times, we can
...more
CANDI
Sep 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
great story! made me feel guilty about eating lol I felt so bad for the main character, you can really imagine the terror she felt at getting old, at her daughter in laws ruthlessness, at being accused... I really wonder if she imagined some of those things or did she make the pact? read and decide for yourself!
adriana
Apr 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
i very much enjoyed this book. it is historical with the right balance of drama and excitement. a quick read that followed an older woman (which i loved for its uniqueness) and an old timey villages hardships. i thought it was interesting and felt good about the decision on the end.
Kat
Jul 10, 2014 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
Belle

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 the small village Gude where and her fam
...more
Heather Muzik
Aug 21, 2013 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 character of G
...more
Susan Spann
Mar 06, 2012 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
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
Camille24
Oct 25, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was so interesting and sad and cool! It takes place in 1500s Germany in a tiny village plagued by a severe famine. It is told from the perspective of Gude, an old woman living with her son and his family. She can remember the times of plenty, and is slowly slipping into dementia and senility. It is clear that she is a burden on the family, and she can sense the growing resentment from her daughter-in-law, Irmeltrude.

Gude is cast out of the cottage one wintry night and stumb
...more
Lauralee
Feb 25, 2009 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
Sabina
Oct 18, 2012 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
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Update April 2018: The Murderer's Maid: A Lizzie Borden Novel just won a gold medal in Historical Fiction from the IPPY Awards, awarded to small press publications, university press publications and self-published books. I'm grateful to Bonhomie Press (an imprint of Yellow Pear Press) for entering the book into the awards!
Erika Mailman is the author of THE WITCH'S TRINITY(Random House, 2007), a n
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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.” 2 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.” 1 likes
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