- 4,49 €
'An oppressive, forensic, psychological thriller: J.K. Rowling meets Antony Beevor, Stephen King and Marina Warner ... Schiff's writing is to die for' THE TIMES
It began in 1692, over an exceptionally raw Massachusetts winter, when a minister's niece started to scream and convulse. It ended less than a year later, but not before panic had infected the entire colony, nineteen men and women had been hanged, and a band of adolescent girls had brought Massachusetts to its knees.
Vividly capturing the dark, unsettled atmosphere of seventeenth-century America, Stacy Schiff's magisterial history draws us into this anxious time. She shows us how quickly the epidemic of accusations, trials, and executions span out of control. Above all, Schiff's astonishing research reveals details and complexity that few other historians have seen.
Pulitzer-winner Schiff (Cleopatra: A Life) applies her descriptive prowess and flair for the dramatic to the Salem witch trials. The book is packed with details and delivered with a punch, but it suffers from a dearth of nuance. Schiff's passionate use of the active tense places the reader right in the midst of the action, about 15 miles north of Boston during the spring of 1692. However, this laudable effort also causes some confusion over place and time, and it's hard to distinguish the facts from Schiff's imaginative attempts at turning the trial reports into narrative action. There are disorienting shifts between passages in which the reader is immersed in the spooky, supposedly magical environment of Salem, and more prosaic sections describing what actually happened in the trials and town. Schiff provides background context for the events and focuses on the action, but her efforts to apply an overarching fairy tale theme miss their mark, and she avoids deep cultural, historical, and societal analyses of the trials. This retelling succeeds as a work of gripping popular nonfiction, but for those already familiar with the subject, it will serve only as light reading.