- Books, Literature, and Writing
Salem Witch Trials Books
Great Books About The Salem Witch Trials Worth Reading
I've long been interested in reading about the Salem witch trials no matter how sad and dark these books might be.
While some authors went down the road of fiction novels (many which have been also turned into popular movies), I'm really more interested in reading the non-fiction books that depict the events somewhat factually.
I'm not a Wiccan, nor a traditional witch, but if you believe in past lives, let me just say that I might have been one at some point. If you don't, no worries, that's all I'm going to say on that particular subject :)
On this page I will list some of my most favorite books on the Salem Witch Trials that have been written since the great fascination with this tragicfiction novels, while others are non-fiction books. I have listed the two categories separately with popular books in each genre, so you can jump directly to the those that interest you the most. Also I will list a few favorites about witchcraft trials that happened in other parts of the world. Afterall Salem was just the beginning of the craze.
Have fun browsing and if you have other favorites that I haven't touched upon on this page, leave me a comment in the Guestbook so I can check them out, along with other readers of this page.
Non-Fiction Salem Witch Trial Books
The Salem Witch Trials - by Lori Lee Wilson
I have this book (my own hardcover copy shown above) for ages, it was a discarded library book which I was glad to get hold of since books about witches, especially about witch trials interest me so much.
The book is rather thin with about 100 pages of so of content, which makes it a fast read. And an interesting one too. Too many nonfiction books are dry and try to be as dry as posssible - afterall they are non-fiction books. But I do prefer to read books that also hold my attention, that entertain, like this one.
It is a factual book about the witch trials that happened in 1692 with a few well places photos as well (love the one about the Salem Witch museum in Salem shot int he dark (for the extra creepy effect, I guess).
The book gives an overview about the evolution of witchcraft in history and what the word witch actually means, along with a short detour about witches depicted in fairy tales and the connection with the devil. Then the author goes directly onto the topic of the Salem witches, again with plenty of factual information and photos.
What I liked about this book was the notion that in a way there is a 'witch hunt' going on even today especially in the communist (or ex-communist) countries. Haven't really thought about it like that, but examples given do bring the point home.
All in all a great informative book that is well worth reading - if you can get hold of it, as it's not always available in book stores.
Witch-Hunt: Mysteries of the Salem Witch Trials
This is another great book on the story behind the Salem witch trials. I had the book, but in the meantime I gave it away. Still, the story remains with me since.
The book is geared towards the Young Adult (YA) generation, but don't let that fact put you off from reading it, it's actually reading material for anyone who is interested in the witch hunt and the following trials that occured in Salem. It has also plenty of theories to sink your teeth in, along with a few myths that are still standing even today.
A great non-fiction book that should be on the permanent bookshelf of anyone who wants to learn more about this particular sad episode in mankind's history.
The Bewitching of Anne Gunter: A Horrible and True Story of Deception, Witchcraft, Murder, and the King of England - by James Sharpe
This is another book that is in my personal collection and while it's not specifically about the Salem witches, it is more about the witch hunt and witch trials in England in 1604. It is a fascinating story that reads almost like a novel. Many people believe that the witch trials only happened in Salem, but the truth is that it really happened during those times in Europe as well. For example in England the last execution of so-called 'witches' happened in the 18th century.
The author is basically a professor of history, so he knows his facts and has delivered them very well in this book. While my copy is again a hardcover edition, it's by no means a heavy book or a big book to read. It reads fast, but of course, it's not a novel. It's very factual and extremely well researched, I might add.
One thing I missed from this book are pictures, that are actually abundant in the previous reviewed book The Salem Witch Trials.
One thing I had to smile about (although nothing on the topic discusses is funny), is the references of a football match. But you have to read the book to understand it.
Overall it's a great book that focuses on the witchcraft trial of Anne, while also describing the life in those times in the middle ages, the poverty of villagers and generally about witchcraft in Europe.
I think this is a great book to read for anyone who has some general ideas about the witchy trials in the middle ages, who want to learn more specifics about single cases.
The Salem Witch Trials Reader - by Frances Hill
Here is another non-fiction book about the witch trials in Salem. Now this book is quite different in that it has actual texts dating from those horrible times. And I mean real, original texts dating from the 17the century. First the author gives an overview of life in in Salem and how people were impacted by the so-called 'witches' in their everyday life.
I enjoyed reading the first part, but since I already knew what the second part of the book entailed, I couldn't get fast enough to read the real meat of it: the factual firsthand accounts from the trials, that included lots of testimonials, letters and records kept by the church, testimonials by people who said they were influnced by 'Satan itself'.
This book is truly a goldmine, but only in the right hands - in those that want to know more than the general population about the infamous Salem wicth trials, and not third party explanations.
The Salem Witch Trials: A Day-by-Day Chronicle of a Community Under Siege
by Marilynne K. Roach
Here comes another excellent book on the trials of witches in Salem which I can highly recommend. It is quite an accurate description of the events in Salem and surrounding areas during the persecution of witches, based on almost 30 years of research. The author definitely knows her stuff.
One thing I liked a bit less than the previous books is that it's a bit dry. It is more like a recount of facts and journal entries without adding anything from the author's personality in the writing. However it is a good book, and while I do like my reading a bit more with soul, so to speak, not everyone is like me in this sense.
On the positive, it is factual, has not a lot of extra and non-relevant information and it's perfect for those who love reading books about the trials, wanting to learn more from every source possible.
This Image Touched Me Deeply
I came across this photo a while ago when I was reading more online on the witch trials. It is a shot taken of a doll and a wreath placed at the Suzannah Martin Salem Massachusetts witch trial memorial in 2007. I'm not sure why it touched me so deeply, but it did.
A Delusion Of Satan: The Full Story Of The Salem Witch Trials
This is another great book I've read recently, it was lent to me by a friend who knows my interest in reading Salem Witch trials books.
For people who have read lots of books on the topic, this might not have anything new to deliver. But for most of us it is quite an indepth review of the entire hysteria that created and was the famous set of trials.
I liked this book, however, because it was so much more than just that. When reading it you have the feeling of learning the 'secrets' and inside information that not many are privy to, and it is told also in an engaging writing style, which I liked.
Yes the author adds her own beliefs on what actually happened, but that makes it to be less dry than many others. However the facts are pretty much spot on, at least from the many other books I've read on the subject, and the book added an extra layer of giving us a view of the society of the times in Massachusetts, which I found quite refreshing. Overall a good book to read on the topic.
Salem Possessed: The Social Origins of Witchcraft
by Paul Boyer and Stephen Nissenbaum
For one more non-fiction book about the famous Salem witch trials I recommend the Salem Possessed. This book is, however, not a typical recount of what happened in Salem during the witch hunt and following trials. It is a bit different, in that goes way beyond that. It touches on the economical situation of the times, along the social ramifications of the events.
I read the book in highschool as part of my history/literature curriculum. Now that I think about it, it was probably the book that started my interest in this topic in the first place. However it would be several years until I came across and read another witch hunt book.
I think it's also a great book to read if someone is majoring in college in sociology, because it puts a lot on the table to think about. It is, afterall, a very troubled time in our history, one that is well worth researching well beyond the actual personal accounts and stories. Overall a good book to pick up if you find it somewhere.
A Few More Recommended Non-Fiction Books About The Witch Trials
While the books reviewed above are my most favorite ones, I've read quite a lot on the subject over the years, and there are several others that stayed in my mind and I can recommend if you want some more reading material.
* The Salem Witch Hunt: A Brief History with Documents by Richard Godbeer - another typical books on these infamous trials.
* Escaping Salem: The Other Witch Hunt of 1692 by the same author as above (Richard Godbeer) - I've read both books about the trials,and I actually enjoyed both of them.
* The Enemy Within: 2,000 Years of Witch-hunting in the Western World by John Demos - this book touches on a lot of history of witch hunting and witch trials, how the whole thing evolved and the psychology behind it.
* Witchcraft at Salem by Chadwick Hansen - another interesting book on the trials, which is a bit on the Christian side. Not my most favorite, but I think it's still worth noting.
Fictional Books About The Witch Hunt
Some Of The Best Salem Witch Trials Books Written Over Time
The Salem witch trials have captured the imagination and interest of many authors of fiction writing. While my main interest on this topic is about non-fiction, I have read several that I found quite good and worth mentioning. I don't specifically collect the literature about it, but here are a few books that I notable, and stand the test of time.
I couldn't start the list without probably the most popular and well known book written about the topic: The Crucible by Arthur Miller.
I think everyone agrees that this is a classic. I think in many schools it's actually a required reading. I had once a discussion about it with a friend and she told me every time she thinks about the book she 'gets the chills'. Her words, and I can believe it.
Some people might be more familiar with the movie that came out after the book, which was in fact quite good as well. But I do recommend the book, especially if you watched the movie and liked it.
When I first picked up this book, I actually thought it's non-fiction. Despite my surprised that it is, I really enjoyed it (maybe more than The Crucible, but that is a classic and it had to be placed first).
The author is apparently descending from Martha Carrier, who was basically one of the first women to be accused of witchcraft.
The story is about Martha's daughter, Sarah Carrier who was 10 years old at the time, and it is in fact told from her point of view.
I found it a very emotional read, maybe because I was looking at it through the eyes of a small child who is trying to make sense of the horrific facts she had to live through. I think for me it was one of the most moving books about the Salem witch trials ever. Really recommended.
I so enjoyed reading this novel, maybe because while it is historical fiction, the author has really stayed close to the reality of it all throughout the book. At times I did have the feeling that she's talking about what really happened there because everything was so credible.
It does read, however, like a horror story, so beware, it's not really for the squeamish. For me, it did have a lasting impression, and I consider it one of my favorite fictional novels about that dark period in our history.
This book is recommended for young adults (teens), but having read it, I think everyone will enjoy it.
Abigail Faulkner is a 10 year old who's family is marked as being witchy. The story is told from her point of view, so again you get to see how a kid is trying to make sense of the confusion, false accusations, hypocrisy and the depravity of people of the time.
It's not a horror novel, not a scary one, but one that has touched me just a few other others before where kids were deeply drawn in the story line.
Worth reading no matter how old you are just now.
Finally, another book that had a lasting impression on me was I, Tibuta, Black Witch of Salem.
It is, as usual, based on real facts, but it's a story of fiction. A very compelling one, at that.
Tibuta also features in The Crucible by Arthur Miller, so I was curious when the name popped up in a reading group I was part of a few years ago.
I did know about the black woman Tibuta, who was pretty much the first one to confess to being a witch - and was never tried, but it's interesting to see how various authors spin the story around her in their books.
This book however was a bit different. It was a mix of spiritual, supernatural, all delivered in the words of Tibuta herself. At some point I almost had the feeling that the book is like a poem, it was very lyrical, and very different from the usual. A well worth read, one that I recommend.
Have You Watched The Crucible Movie? - Here is the official trailer for a taster, if not
A Few More Recommended Fiction Books Worth Checking Out
Over the years there were hundreds of books written on this very controversial and dark topic. I've read several, but I'm still looking for more novels (and non-fiction books) of those accounts. However here are a few more that I can recommend for anyone who has an interest in that gruesome historical period as told in fiction.
* Kb>Beyond The Burning Time by Kathryn Lasky - an interesting historical fiction about the Salem witch trials
* Witch Child by Celia Rees - this is actually the first book in the 2 part series
* The White Witch by Janet Graber - a book about Gwendolyn, an accused white witch in England in the times of Charles II
* Witches' Children by Patricia Clapp - another young adult novel about the Witchcraft trials in thewinter of 1692
* Salem Moon by Scarlet Black - it is the first in the 2 part series with the same name. I liked it because it also has parts about time travel, which is another of my favorite fiction genres to read about.