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The Witches: Salem, 1692
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August 2020: Witches > The Witches: Salem, 1692 - Stacy Schiff - 3 stars

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Nikki | 661 comments This was a thoroughly researched and well-written book, but it left me feeling unsatisfied. Paradoxically, I think this subject is fascinating because it's so mysterious; the known facts about how the trials played out are of less interest than the motives and experiences that we can only speculate about. As I started reading and learned about the lasting false impressions created by fictional portrayals of characters like the enslaved woman Tituba (who was actually Native American), I was convinced by the value of a thorough non-fiction treatment – but given the gaps in the information we have, the truly interesting questions (what was really going on in the minds of the 'bewitched' girls? did people generally believe in the accusations or play along out of fear or malice?) are still mysterious. If you’re looking for a good factual account of what we actually know about the witchcraft trials that started in Salem in 1692, I do recommend this, but given how much we can't know, attempts at exploring these questions speculatively through fiction remain more compelling to me.

message 2: by Joy D (last edited Aug 29, 2020 07:19PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Joy D | 4171 comments I had similar feelings, Nikki. It's a good summation of the facts. Too bad more primary source material did not survive stating the inner thoughts of the people involved.

Nikki | 661 comments I just read your review & yes, it seems we had very similar reactions to it. So frustrating to know so much detail about some procedural aspects but tantalisingly little about what it all actually meant to the people involved.

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