Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Witch's Trinity” as Want to Read:
The Witch's Trinity
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Witch's Trinity

3.55  ·  Rating details ·  1,426 Ratings  ·  240 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
Kindle Edition, 290 pages
Published September 25th 2007 by Crown (first published January 1st 2007)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Witch's Trinity, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Witch's Trinity

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
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. 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
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
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.
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
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 haunting. It made me feel strange reading the
Apr 03, 2014 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
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
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
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 f ...more
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,
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
Jan 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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 flimsiest of ev
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.
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?
Jun 07, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A well written tale about how desperation leads people to desperate and cruel acts.
Dec 16, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
You can find my review here:

2.5 stars
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
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!
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

There seems to be a sea of information on the internet about Erika Mailman, most are snippets. I can’t pinpoint exact details. 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
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 chara
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
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 stumbles upon a c
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?

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
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 clichéd 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 b ...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
Sep 02, 2012 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
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
witch hunts 2 11 May 02, 2012 06:21PM  
  • Daughters of the Witching Hill
  • Susannah Morrow
  • The Last Witchfinder
  • Petty Magic: Being the Memoirs and Confessions of Miss Evelyn Harbinger, Temptress and Troublemaker
  • Deliverance from Evil
  • Corrag
  • The Owl Killers
  • Lady of the Butterflies
  • Salem Possessed: The Social Origins of Witchcraft
  • The Sacrifice
  • The Vizard Mask
  • The Burning Times
  • The Crimson Key (The Visitor's Series #2)
  • Watermark: A Novel of the Middle Ages
  • The Devil in the Shape of a Woman: Witchcraft in Colonial New England
  • The Book of Fires
  • The Wild Irish
  • The Lost Diary of Don Juan: An Account of the True Arts of Passion and the Perilous Adventure of Love
Just released House of Bellaver for your summer ebook pleasure if you like a literary ghost story, Shakespeare & suffrage!
Watch for the Murderer's Maid: A Lizzie Borden novel coming in October 2017, now available for preorder:
Erika Mailman is the author of The Witch's Trinity (Random House, 2007), a novel about a medieval woman accused of witchcraf
More about Erika Mailman...

Fiction Deals

  • War Brides
    $3.99 $2
  • Bluebeard
    $8.99 $1.99
  • The Madonnas of Leningrad
    $10.74 $2.99
  • Orphan Train Girl
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Want Not
    $14.95 $2.99
  • Finding Rebecca
    $5.49 $1.99
  • The Twelve-Mile Straight
    $14.99 $2.99
  • The Long Way Home
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Cafe by the Sea
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Everybody's Son
    $12.99 $1.99
  • The Restaurant Critic's Wife
    $3.99 $2
  • The Word Game
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Ahab's Wife, or The Star-Gazer
    $10.74 $1.99
  • Cats Are Weird: And More Observations
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Wake Up
    $4.99 $2
  • The Way to London: A Novel of World War II
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Abby's Journey
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Ask the Dust
    $8.24 $1.99
  • Kings of Broken Things
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Collected Stories of Stefan Zweig
    $14.99 $1.99
  • Saving Abby
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Vanessa and Her Sister
    $13.99 $2.99
  • The King's Mistress
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Midnight Sun (The Northern Lights Series, No 3)
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Cement Garden (Ian McEwan Series Book 2)
    $8.99 $2.99
  • The Book of Love: Poems of Ecstasy and Longing
    $8.24 $1.99
  • Under the Wide and Starry Sky
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Illuminations: A Novel of Hildegard von Bingen
    $14.95 $1.99
  • The Cove
    $7.49 $1.99
  • The Secret Healer (The Secret Healer #1)
    $3.49 $0.99
  • Fat Chance
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Jailbird
    $8.99 $1.99
  • Mrs. Saint and the Defectives
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Fire by Night
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Bagombo Snuff Box
    $8.99 $1.99
  • The High Mountains of Portugal
    $11.99 $1.99
  • The Cat's Pajamas: Stories
    $7.99 $1.99
  • The Thistle and the Rose (Tudor Saga, #8)
    $11.99 $1.99
  • The Burgess Boys
    $12.99 $1.99
  • Waterfalls (Glenbrooke, #6)
    $11.99 $1.99
  • The Tibetan Book of the Dead: The Great Liberation through Hearing in the Bardo (Shambhala Classics)
    $12.99 $1.99
  • Skinny Legs and All
    $14.99 $1.99
  • The Unkillable Kitty O'Kane
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Fire from Heaven (Alexander the Great, #1)
    $17.99 $1.99
  • The Most Dangerous Place on Earth
    $13.99 $1.99
  • Waiting for Morning (Forever Faithful, #1)
    $7.99 $1.99
  • The Paris Wife
    $11.99 $2.99
  • It Is Well
    $4.99 $1.99
  • If I Was Your Girl
    $9.99 $2.99
“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
More quotes…