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The Witchcraft of Salem Village (Landmark Books) Paperback – June 12, 1987
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- Publisher : Random House Books for Young Readers; Reissue edition (June 12, 1987)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 160 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0394891767
- ISBN-13 : 978-0394891767
- Reading age : 8 - 12 years
- Lexile measure : 1150L
- Grade level : 3 - 7
- Item Weight : 3.95 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.2 x 0.42 x 7.63 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #145,260 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Even though I found it to be boring, I do think it’s worth reading if you’re wanting to educate yourself more about the Salem trials but don’t want to commit to an in-depth account just yet.
“The Witchcraft of Salem Village” by Shirley Jackson is a historical retelling of the Salem witch trials of 1692. History is changeable data, so I don’t know if this is 100% fact, but it rings true, and it is a compelling story.
As I was listening to the story, I realized that this is a crime tale, a history lesson, and a horror story.
The narration was straight forward and pleasant.
Recommendation – not scary because it’s History, but still well worth reading or listening to.
I never knew that Shirley Jackson wrote about the witch trials until today. I thought that she did an excellent job, and in the afterword, she speculates about the "afflictions" being caused by ergot...which would explain a lot!!!
Top reviews from other countries
In 1692 in Salem Village, Massachusetts, a group of young girls claimed to have been mistreated by witches and wizards and began accusing members of their colony. The village elders, devoutly religious Puritans, were utterly in thrall to these girls because of the strictness of their beliefs and the real fear at the time of actual witches, and began arresting the women based on the girls' testimony, and started executing them. Eventually the arrests stopped as people became sick of the witch-hunt but the shocking madness that gripped this village is still a fascinating glimpse into early American life and the disturbing behaviour extreme religious views breeds.
This book is non-fiction but is written in the fluid narrative style of a novel making for easy understanding and reading of this strange story. Jackson writes beautifully and retells the events as closely to the facts as possible. It's amazing to read the way these girls were believed and that on the loosest of accusations by these children that an entire community of grown-ups chose to believe their nonsense and act upon it in such a heinous way. Jackson speculates that it was a convenient way for these grown-ups to work out their frustration over others, a kind of class warfare, but ultimately it comes down to the Puritan religion and the scaremongering that suited it's cause.
Jackson would go on to include many aspects of the Salem Witch Trials in her fiction, such as the mob mentality and rural superstition in "The Lottery" or the deviousness of little girls in "We Have Always Lived in the Castle" or the way we can lie to ourselves to believe delusions based on our surroundings in "The Haunting of Hill House".
It is a well written and brief book that will make clear to anyone reading the events and issues surrounding this period of time, but it is by no means a scholarly book and anyone looking for more in-depth explanations into the witch-trials would do better seeking out a more academic history book. The book is aimed at younger readers in their early teens and it's perfectly suited for that. I would recommend anyone looking for further reading to seek out Jackson's later novels as they are masterpieces of fiction and well worth reading to see where she pursued the themes present in this book.