Book Review & Giveaway: The Penguin Book of Witches, edited by Katherine Howe

Posted October 13, 2014 by Melissa in Book Review, Giveaway, There are Witches in the Air 2014 | 22 Comments


The Book

Title:  The Penguin Book of Witches
Edited By: Katherine Howe
Age Range: Adult
Genre: Non Fiction | Witches
Length: 320 pages
Publisher: Penguin Classics
Publication Date: September 30th 2014
Available Formats: Paperback, E-book
Add the book: Goodreads
Buy the book: Amazon | BN |The Book Depository
Source: Publisher


Chilling real-life accounts of witches, from medieval Europe through colonial America.

From a manual for witch hunters written by King James himself in 1597, to court documents from the Salem witch trials of 1692, to newspaper coverage of a woman stoned to death on the streets of Philadelphia while the Continental Congress met, The Penguin Book of Witches is a treasury of historical accounts of accused witches that sheds light on the reality behind the legends. Bringing to life stories like that of Eunice Cole, tried for attacking a teenage girl with a rock and buried with a stake through her heart; Jane Jacobs, a Bostonian so often accused of witchcraft that she took her tormentors to court on charges of slander; and Increase Mather, an exorcism-performing minister famed for his knowledge of witches, this volume provides a unique tour through the darkest history of English and North American witchcraft, never failing to horrify, intrigue, and delight.

My Thoughts

The Penguin Book of Witches is a great resource for primary source documents that either informed many of the key thought processes of the time or document many of the trials themselves. As a non-fiction compilation this does read more like a textbook but an immensely fascinating one if you are at all interested in cultural or socio-economic bias, bullying or witchcraft.  Katherine Howe, our editor, makes several great points about how the hysteria had a lot less to do with religion or any particular time period and so much more to do with how we perceive and react to those who are “different” from “the norm.” Those who are “Other”.

As a former resident of Salem, MA I know quite a bit about the hysteria that took place in Massachusetts but I fund it fascinating to read the transcripts and documents from other areas and time periods. Salem may be the most well know account of persecution but it is by no means the only one as this book demonstrates.   It really brings home the actual horror of the events which to a certain degree have been sanitized and glamorized by the tourist industry in Salem.

If you really want to feel like you can step into the past and experience the truth regarding Witches…this is the read for you.

Was It Worth My Time?

4 Timepieces


Paperback Copy of The Penguin Book of Witches

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tags: , , , ,

Don't want to miss a thing? Subscribe to my newsletter and get all my posts in your inbox!

22 responses to “Book Review & Giveaway: The Penguin Book of Witches, edited by Katherine Howe

  1. Haley Scully

    This sounds like a great book! I love that the book is based off of actual documents and history; that’s really interesting. Thanks for the giveaway!

  2. Jillyn

    I actually have a whole shelf dedicated to the Salem Witch Trials. This is right up my alley! Thanks for the chance to win.

  3. Emily

    I love witches and have always had a deep curiosity about the Salem Witch Trials since I was a wee little one. This book sounds like it belongs on my shelf! Thanks for the giveaway.

  4. Carl

    Such a great-looking book. I’d love to have a copy to read and refer back to from time to time. Thanks for the chance to win it.

  5. Lori Hopkins

    WOW! I just came across this book accidentally last night, and tonight I find a giveaway for it? Awesome! I would love to have this to use as another source fro my knowledge of witches. I am trying to get enough info together to try and write a book about witches, magic, vamps, faeries etc and this would really help. Virginia, since you are from Salem, are you descended from any of those persecuted?

  6. Anita Yancey

    It sounds like a really good and interesting book. I can’t wait to read it. Thanks for having the giveaway.

Leave a Reply

CommentLuv badge

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.