10 books like The Ruin of All Witches

By Malcolm Gaskill,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like The Ruin of All Witches. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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In the Devil's Snare

By Mary Beth Norton,

Book cover of In the Devil's Snare: The Salem Witchcraft Crisis of 1692

A fascinating exploration of the Salem witch trials that illustrates how the New England girls whose accusations lead to the wrongful execution of thirteen innocent women and imprisonment of some two hundred more were victims of war trauma in the Maine woods. During the so-called King Phillip’s War, Puritan immigrants who seized land as part of their Massachusetts Bay Colony Charter waged horrific, brutal battles with Native Americans defending their land from coveters and invaders. Their wives and children were there to witness and suffer it. This book was a key to my greater understanding of the land seizure and other events that led to and fueled the Salem Witch trials. 

In the Devil's Snare

By Mary Beth Norton,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked In the Devil's Snare as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Award-winning historian Mary Beth Norton reexamines the Salem witch trials in thisstartlingly original, meticulously researched, and utterly riveting study.

In 1692 the people of Massachusetts were living in fear, and not solely of satanic afflictions. Horrifyingly violent Indian attacks had all but emptied the northern frontier of settlers, and many traumatized refugees—including the main accusers of witches—had fled to communities like Salem. Meanwhile the colony’s leaders, defensive about their own failure to protect the frontier, pondered how God’s people could be suffering at the hands of savages. Struck by the similarities between what the refugees had witnessed and what the…


Year of Wonders

By Geraldine Brooks,

Book cover of Year of Wonders: A Novel of the Plague

Voice is everything in this mesmerizing novel set in a small city during the plague. England 1666 is thick with suspicion, fear, and death. Widows, healers, and mothers of the dead are easy targets for religious zealots and outsiders, but one young widow—our narrator Anna—finds new ways to survive and thrive. Brooks trains her sights on age-old fearmongering to show how a community breeds suspicion and targets scapegoats in times of pestilence and mistrust. This is a novel that should be read now to remind us of the darkness that lies at the heart of fear and plagues.

Year of Wonders

By Geraldine Brooks,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Year of Wonders as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of 'March' and 'People of the Book'.

A young woman's struggle to save her family and her soul during the extraordinary year of 1666, when plague suddenly struck a small Derbyshire village.

In 1666, plague swept through London, driving the King and his court to Oxford, and Samuel Pepys to Greenwich, in an attempt to escape contagion. The north of England remained untouched until, in a small community of leadminers and hill farmers, a bolt of cloth arrived from the capital. The tailor who cut the cloth had no way of knowing that the damp…


The Lost Apothecary

By Sarah Penner,

Book cover of The Lost Apothecary

A page-turning, spell-binding book about female empowerment that unspools in exhilarating cliffhangers, this novel will keep you up all night. Two strong and independent Victorians—young and clever Eliza and broken-hearted, vengeful Nella—mix secret potions in a hidden apothecary, where their only customers are women who’ve been wronged. The ending will take your breath away and leave you wanting more.  Which is great, because the author’s next book is coming in 2023.

The Lost Apothecary

By Sarah Penner,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Lost Apothecary as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

Named Most Anticipated of 2021 by Newsweek, Good Housekeeping, Hello! magazine, Oprah.com, Bustle, Popsugar, Betches, Sweet July, and GoodReads!

March 2021 Indie Next Pick and #1 LibraryReads Pick

“A bold, edgy, accomplished debut!” —Kate Quinn, New York Times bestselling author of The Alice Network

A forgotten history. A secret network of women. A legacy of poison and revenge. Welcome to The Lost Apothecary…

Hidden in the depths of eighteenth-century London, a secret apothecary shop caters to an unusual kind of clientele. Women across the city whisper of a mysterious figure named Nella who sells well-disguised…


The Heretic's Daughter

By Kathleen Kent,

Book cover of The Heretic's Daughter

A mother and daughter face accusations of witchcraft and bedevilment in 1692 Salem and devise a devilish plan that will save only one of them. While researching the Salem witch trials and others in Europe, I learned this horrible truth: the only way an accused woman could save herself was by admitting that she was a witch. In this astonishing novel based on her great-9x grandmother, the author weaves a spellbinding tale of love, fear, and devotion as a mother and daughter make a tortured decision in the face of hate and religious zealotry.

The Heretic's Daughter

By Kathleen Kent,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Heretic's Daughter as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A courageous woman fights to survive the darkest days of the Salem Witch Trials in this "heart-wrenching story of family love and sacrifice" (USA Today).  

Salem, 1752. Sarah Carrier Chapman, weak with infirmity, writes a letter to her granddaughter that reveals the secret she has closely guarded for six decades: how she survived the Salem Witch Trials when her mother did not.

Sarah's story begins more than a year before the trials, when she and her family arrive in a New England community already gripped by superstition and fear. As they witness neighbor pitted against neighbor, friend against friend, the…


Witchcraft

By Malcolm Gaskill,

Book cover of Witchcraft: A Very Short Introduction

I have read dozens of books on this subject and this is by far the best succinct overview I have come across. The author has written extensively on English witchcraft and knows the broader field inside out. It is truly amazing how much he is able to cover (clearly and vividly) in such a short space, from historic origins up to the present day. There is also a very helpful bibliography so readers can pursue certain topics in more depth.

Witchcraft

By Malcolm Gaskill,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Witchcraft as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Witchcraft is a subject that fascinates us all, and everyone knows what a witch is - or do they? From childhood most of us develop a sense of the mysterious, malign person, usually an old woman. Historically, too, we recognize witch-hunting as a feature of pre-modern societies. But why do witches still feature so heavily in our cultures and consciousness? From Halloween to superstitions, and literary references such as Faust and even Harry Potter, witches still
feature heavily in our society. In this Very Short Introduction Malcolm Gaskill challenges all of this, and argues that what we think we know…


Witch Hunt

By S.M. Reine,

Book cover of Witch Hunt: An Urban Fantasy Mystery

Who’s ever been blamed at work for something they didn’t do?  Well, the Office of Preternatural Affairs takes it to a whole new level when they suspect one of their agents, Cèsar Hawke, of murdering a woman. I mean, she was found dead in his home…but he claims he’s innocent. And he’s going to hunt down a shaman who can speak to the dead to prove it.

This wickedly fun story takes the urban fantasy detective trope and infuses it with humor, danger, and twists & turns.

Witch Hunt

By S.M. Reine,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Witch Hunt as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

There are scratches on Cèsar Hawke’s arms, a discharged Glock on his coffee table, and a dead woman in his bathtub. Yeah, maybe he brought the waitress home for some fun—he was too drunk to remember it—but he knows for a fact that he didn’t kill her. He’s an agent with the Office of Preternatural Affairs. He doesn’t hurt people. He saves them. The cops disagree. Now Cèsar is running. Isobel Stonecrow speaks with the dead. She brings closure to the bereaved and heals broken hearts. But when she talks to the wrong spirit, the OPA puts a bounty on…


The Last Witch of Langenburg

By Thomas Robisheaux,

Book cover of The Last Witch of Langenburg: Murder in a German Village

As advertised, a late case of witchcraft (although not as late as Salem thirty years later—further proof of American backwardness in Europeans’ eyes). A kind of seventeenth-century "Law and Order,” where we follow one case of alleged poisoning from the beginning to the end, from the different perspectives of practically everyone involved.  Another heart-wrenching family drama among people known to each other all their lives. I especially liked the nuanced treatment of the legal investigator and other specialists for the prosecution. Perhaps a bit too lengthy, but I found it easy to glide over a few specialized sections in favor of detailed dramatizations of several key confrontations. 

The Last Witch of Langenburg

By Thomas Robisheaux,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Last Witch of Langenburg as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

On the night of the festive holiday of Shrove Tuesday in 1672 Anna Fessler died after eating one of her neighbor's buttery cakes. Could it have been poisoned? Drawing on vivid court documents, eyewitness accounts, and an early autopsy report, historian Thomas Robisheaux brings the story to life. Exploring one of Europe's last witch panics, he unravels why neighbors and the court magistrates became convinced that Fessler's neighbor Anna Schmieg was a witch-one of several in the area-ensnared by the devil. Once arrested, Schmieg, the wife of the local miller, and her daughter were caught up in a high-stakes drama…


The Witchfinder's Sister

By Beth Underdown,

Book cover of The Witchfinder's Sister

A thoughtful and well-researched novel about the “Witchfinder General” Matthew Hopkins, who hunted witches in eastern England during the mid-seventeenth century Civil War. Or rather, it’s not about Matthew but about his fictional sister, Alice. Focusing on Alice is a clever and thought-provoking way of telling a famous story, making us look harder at the women involved in the witch hunt and how they might have felt about their experiences. How did women feel about witchfinders in their families and among their friends? Did they really suspect other women of witchcraft? Were they able to avoid becoming complicit in witch-hunting?

It’s a lively and horrifying story that has a really convincing seventeenth-century feel and it made me uncomfortable. What would I have done if a witch-hunt had come to my village? What would you do?

The Witchfinder's Sister

By Beth Underdown,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Witchfinder's Sister as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'The number of women my brother Matthew killed, so far as I can reckon it, is one hundred and six . . .'

THE PAGE-TURNING RICHARD AND JUDY BOOK CLUB BESTSELLER

'A compelling debut from a gifted storyteller' Sarah Perry, author of The Essex Serpent
_________________________

When Alice Hopkins' husband dies in a tragic accident, she returns to the small Essex town of Manningtree, where her brother Matthew still lives.

But home is no longer a place of safety. Matthew has changed, and there are rumours spreading through the town: whispers of witchcraft, and of a great book, in which…


The Witch-Hunt in Early Modern Europe

By Brian P. Levack,

Book cover of The Witch-Hunt in Early Modern Europe

The Witch-Hunt is the place to start for anyone interested in European witch-hunts, witch trials, and beliefs about diabolic magic. The book is a concise history of magic and witchcraft in England and across the continent from 1450 to 1750. Levack touches on everything anyone needs to know about the topic, yet the book is more than a survey. The author provides in-depth information and myriad graphic details about the accusations, trials, tortures, and executions of thousands of people, largely women. Witchcraft was ubiquitously thought to be a crime and moral abomination, and it was prosecuted by both secular and church courts. But the specifics of witch-hunting in various locales differed according to complex factors such as religion, economics, social class, legal codes, the centralization of the government, and gender. Levack explains the geographical distribution of witch-hunts and how they spread and eventually ended.

The fourth edition of the book…

The Witch-Hunt in Early Modern Europe

By Brian P. Levack,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Witch-Hunt in Early Modern Europe as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Witch-Hunt in Early Modern Europe, now in its fourth edition, is the perfect resource for both students and scholars of the witch-hunts written by one of the leading names in the field. For those starting out in their studies of witch-beliefs and witchcraft trials, Brian Levack provides a concise survey of this complex and fascinating topic, while for more seasoned scholars the scholarship is brought right up to date. This new edition includes the most recent research on children, gender, male witches and demonic possession as well as broadening the exploration of the geographical distribution of witch prosecutions to…


Witches and Neighbours

By Robin Briggs,

Book cover of Witches and Neighbours: The Social and Cultural Context of European Witchcraft

Whether or not, as Tip O’Neill said, all politics are local, all witchcraft accusations certainly are. Briggs has dug deeply into the archives of various Lorraine villages to unearth an astounding variety of beliefs about magic, sexuality, neighborliness, and social order—all tied to the phenomenon of the witch craze. Like Roper, he gets at the emotional, even therapeutic, impulses behind accusations that lead people in small face-to-face societies to turn on each other.  It’s certainly weird and disturbing, but not always in the ways we have come to expect. Sometimes difficult to obtain in the U.S., but worth the pursuit.

Witches and Neighbours

By Robin Briggs,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Witches and Neighbours as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Witches and Neighbours is a highly original and unconventional analysis of a fascinating historical phenomenon. Unlike other studies of the subject which focus on the mechanisms of persecution, this book presents a rich picture of witchcraft as an all-pervasive aspect of life in early modern Europe. Robin Briggs combines recent research with his own investigations to produce a brilliant and compelling account of the central role of witchcraft in the past. Although the history of witchcraft can only be studied through records of persecutions, these reveal that trials were unusual in everyday life and that witchcraft can be viewed as…


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