92 books like Witchcraft, Magic, and Religion in Seventeenth-Century Massachusetts

By Richard Weisman,

Here are 92 books that Witchcraft, Magic, and Religion in Seventeenth-Century Massachusetts fans have personally recommended if you like Witchcraft, Magic, and Religion in Seventeenth-Century Massachusetts. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Witchcraft in Old and New England

Malcolm Gaskill Author Of The Ruin of All Witches: Life and Death in the New World

From my list on witch hunting in Colonial America.

Who am I?

I am an Emeritus Professor of Early Modern History at the University of East Anglia and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. I taught history for many years at several UK universities, and I was the Director of Studies in History at Churchill College, Cambridge. I am the author of six books, including Hellish Nell: Last of Britain’s Witches and Witchcraft: A Very Short Introduction. His latest book, The Ruin of All Witches: Life and Death in the New World, will be published in November by Penguin. I live in Cambridge, England, and I am married with three children.

Malcolm's book list on witch hunting in Colonial America

Malcolm Gaskill Why did Malcolm love this book?

Nearly a century old now, this was one of the first books to open up this subject for me, and to connect witch-beliefs (and trials) in England and colonial America. It’s more of a collection of essays than a coherent monograph, but they’re thoughtful essays, and, crucially, not excessively lofty. Kittredge was at pains to understand witchcraft in the past rather than judging it from the vantage point of an enlightened present.

They are chapters on image magic, shape-shifting, diagnostic tests, witches’ sabbats, and many other subjects – all discursive explorations, drawing in examples from here and there, and presented in the leisurely style of the gentleman scholar. There’s some strong narrative, too, especially in the chapter on James I, which stands up as an account of how changing thinking about witchcraft, and its relationship to politics and religion, affected policy and legal practice. All in all, it’s stuffed with…

By George Lyman Kittredge,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Witchcraft in Old and New England as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A documented study of witchcraft and witchhunting in Tudor England and colonial America


Book cover of Entertaining Satan: Witchcraft and the Culture of Early New England

Bryan Le Beau Author Of The Story of the Salem Witch Trials

From my list on the story behind the Salem Witch Trials.

Who am I?

A native of Massachusetts and married to a descendent of two of the accused, the Salem witch trials have long fascinated me. Armed with a Ph.D. in American studies from New York University – focused on American history, literature, and religion – a significant portion of my academic career has been devoted to research, publications, classes, and public lectures on the Salem witch trials, reflected in the third edition of my book, The Story of the Salem Witch Trials. The book is only one of several books and many articles I have published on various aspects of American cultural history, many of which relate in some way to what happened in Salem in 1692.  

Bryan's book list on the story behind the Salem Witch Trials

Bryan Le Beau Why did Bryan love this book?

John Putnam Demos remains the “dean” of historians of the Salem witch trials. 

Entertaining Satan remains his most impactful contribution to the study of the events of 1692 by providing their cultural context in early New England, upon which historians have built over the years expanding upon Demos’ findings.

Perhaps his greatest contribution is his interdisciplinary approach invoking the research tools of psychology and sociology, as well as cultural history. His concluding chapter, “Communities: Witchcraft over Time,” provides broadly, excellent insights drawn from his extensive research.  

By John Putnam Demos,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Entertaining Satan as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the first edition of the Bancroft Prize-winning Entertaining Satan, John Putnam Demos presented an entirely new perspective on American witchcraft. By investigating the surviving historical documents of over a hundred actual witchcraft cases, he vividly recreated the world of New England during the witchcraft trials and brought to light fascinating information on the role of witchcraft in early American culture. Now Demos has revisited his original work
and updated it to illustrate why these early Americans' strange views on witchcraft still matter to us today. He provides a new preface that puts forth a broader overview of witchcraft and…


Book cover of The Devil in the Shape of a Woman: Witchcraft in Colonial New England

Malcolm Gaskill Author Of The Ruin of All Witches: Life and Death in the New World

From my list on witch hunting in Colonial America.

Who am I?

I am an Emeritus Professor of Early Modern History at the University of East Anglia and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. I taught history for many years at several UK universities, and I was the Director of Studies in History at Churchill College, Cambridge. I am the author of six books, including Hellish Nell: Last of Britain’s Witches and Witchcraft: A Very Short Introduction. His latest book, The Ruin of All Witches: Life and Death in the New World, will be published in November by Penguin. I live in Cambridge, England, and I am married with three children.

Malcolm's book list on witch hunting in Colonial America

Malcolm Gaskill Why did Malcolm love this book?

A ground-breaking work, which demonstrates how the theoretical witch was embodied by real women, and how a seemingly bizarre fantasy was plausible in among the shapes and rhythms of daily life. This influential study is as much a social, economic and cultural history of seventeenth-century New England as it is strictly speaking a history of witchcraft – indeed, Karlsen demonstrates clearly that the latter cannot be assimilated with an appreciation of the former. Context is everything, and without it we just fall back on stereotypes and tired assumptions.

Witches and neighbours were two-sides of the same coin, the former a projection of the hostile emotions of the latter, and, as Karlsen explains, this fraught relationship was fundamentally gendered. To appreciate how some people were accused of witchcraft, we need first to explore relationships between people in the community, including relations between women. Honour, reputation, age, status and so on, were…

By Carol F Karlsen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Devil in the Shape of a Woman as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Confessing to "familiarity with the devils," Mary Johnson, a servant, was executed by Connecticut officials in 1648. A wealthy Boston widow, Ann Hibbens was hanged in 1656 for casting spells on her neighbors. The case of Ann Cole, who was "taken with very strange Fits," fueled an outbreak of witchcraft accusations in Hartford a generation before the notorious events at Salem.

More than three hundred years later, the question "Why?" still haunts us. Why were these and other women likely witches-vulnerable to accusations of witchcraft and possession? Carol F. Karlsen reveals the social construction of witchcraft in seventeenth-century New England…


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

Laurie Lico Albanese Author Of Hester

From my list on female magic, witches, potions and spells.

Who am I?

I love historical fiction because it brings history and people from the past to life, showing us their struggles and their secrets—especially the women! Since my first historical novel, The Miracles of Prato, I've been paying attention to the women whose stories haven't been told. When I realized Hester Prynne is our first American historical feminist heroine—indeed, our American Eve and our original badass single mom—I knew I had to let her tell her story.  

Laurie's book list on female magic, witches, potions and spells

Laurie Lico Albanese Why did Laurie love this book?

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. 

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…


Book cover of Jane-Emily: And Witches' Children

Kathryn Knight Author Of Ghost Moon

From my list on romantic ghost stories.

Who am I?

I’m a fan of all things spooky! I especially love ghost stories, which is probably abundantly clear from my own novels. I’ve been known to frequent old graveyards, seek out haunted places, and sneak into abandoned buildings for inspiration—and the adrenaline rush! This fascination started when I was a young girl and my dad brought me a YA ghost mystery home from the library—every week, he would have the librarian help him pick out books for me, and I would devour the stack immediately, then re-read until the next library day! My favorite ghost stories have a mix similar to what I write—a tension-filled romance combined with a spooky, suspenseful haunting. 

Kathryn's book list on romantic ghost stories

Kathryn Knight Why did Kathryn love this book?

Jane-Emily is a YA classic, both a sweet romance and a spooky ghost mystery, set in the early 1900s. 

It’s also the book I described in my introduction as the one that made me fall in love with this genre! I first read it when I was about ten, and I immediately recommended it to my best friend, who was also an avid reader. To this day, we are both still scared of those mirrored gazing balls people display in gardens.

When my own children were young, I bought an old paperback on eBay and read it to them, savoring the story that I’ve re-read so many times once again. Even after all these years, Emily’s ghost still delivers chills as she unleashes her wrath on the innocent nine-year-old Jane, and the romance developing between Jane’s young aunt and an old friend of the family plays a part.

One exciting…

By Patricia Clapp,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Emily was a selfish, willful, hateful child who died before her thirteenth birthday. But that was a long time ago.

Jane is nine years old and an orphan when she and her young Aunt Louisa come to spend the summer at Jane's grandmother's house, a large, mysterious mansion in Massachusetts. Then one day . . . Jane stares into a reflecting ball in the garden—and the face that looks back at her is not her own.

Many years earlier, a child of rage and malevolence lived in this place. And she never left. Now Emily has dark plans for little…


Book cover of The Witch of Blackbird Pond

Mary Kendall Author Of The Spinster's Fortune

From my list on vintage gothic suspense by iconic authors.

Who am I?

Sometimes I have to take a trip back to my reading "roots": gothic mystery and suspense. This list is a deep dive into some of my very favorite vintage gothic authors and ones that I consider to be icons of the genre. These writers formed the foundation not only for my reading tastes but also for who I have become as a writer. The memories of my younger self come flooding back when I revisit these authors and their works as I have done with this list. Some of these novels are hard to come by now but, in my opinion, the older and more beat-up paperback, the better. 

Mary's book list on vintage gothic suspense by iconic authors

Mary Kendall Why did Mary love this book?

I adored this book as a kid and decided to pick it up and re-read as an adult. I was not disappointed.

I loved it all over again and also gave myself a little pat on the back for having good book taste at a young age.

The witchcraft trial era of early colonial history in the US is so well crafted here with the accuracy of the historical details blended into the evocative setting.

Published in 1958 and a Newberry Medal winner in 1959, it is young adult but I think non-YA readers could easily enjoy it as a compelling variation of the genre.

Sad to admit that I had forgotten a lot of the plot and details. But happy to say, I have benefited from the reread now.

By Elizabeth George Speare,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked The Witch of Blackbird Pond as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

In this Newbery Medal-winning novel, a girl faces prejudice and accusations of witchcraft in seventeenth-century Connecticut. A classic of historical fiction that continues to resonate across the generations.

Sixteen-year-old Kit Tyler is marked by suspicion and disapproval from the moment she arrives on the unfamiliar shores of colonial Connecticut in 1687. Alone and desperate, she has been forced to leave her beloved home on the island of Barbados and join a family she has never met.

Torn between her quest for belonging and her desire to be true to herself, Kit struggles to survive in a hostile place. Just when…


Book cover of Death in Salem: The Private Lives Behind the 1692 Witch Hunt

Diana Rubino Author Of For The Love Of Hawthorne

From my list on the 1692 “witch” hunts in Salem Village.

Who am I?

I write historical and biographical novels, and have had a fascination with the Salem witch trials since childhood. With my first visit to Salem, I felt a strong connection to my surroundings and its history. When I walked through the House of the Seven Gables for the first time, I felt I’d been there before. Three past-life regressions brought me back to 17th century Salem. In my biographical novel For The Love Of Hawthorne, I delved deeply into the soul of my favorite author, his devoted wife, and the shame his family suffered at the hand of his ancestor Judge Hathorne. The story came from my heart, as I lived their story along with them. 

Diana's book list on the 1692 “witch” hunts in Salem Village

Diana Rubino Why did Diana love this book?

Diane Foulds, a descendant of one of the victims condemned to death during the Salem Witch Trials, thoroughly researched many of the people involved in the events that led to the execution of 19 innocent victims. I am not a descendant, but these events have fascinated me since childhood, because they were so outlandish and led to such unnecessary tragedy. In this book you will learn about not only the victims, but the ‘afflicted’ young girls whose wild, unfounded accusations and theatrics during the trials convinced the judges that many people were witches. It is easy to connect with each individual, as the book centers on them, to understand why the entire episode was character-driven. It is even easier to sympathize with the victims and appreciate how they suffered. 

By Diane E. Foulds,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Death in Salem as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Salem witchcraft will always have a magnetic pull on the American psyche. During the 1692 witch trials, more than 150 people were arrested. An estimated 25 million Americans-including author Diane Foulds-are descended from the twenty individuals executed. What happened to our ancestors? Death in Salem is the first book to take a clear-eyed look at this complex time, by examining the lives of the witch trial participants from a personal perspective. Massachusetts settlers led difficult lives; every player in the Salem drama endured hardships barely imaginable today. Mercy Short, one of the "bewitched" girls, watched as Indians butchered her parents;…


Book cover of The Ruin of All Witches: Life and Death in the New World

Laurie Lico Albanese Author Of Hester

From my list on female magic, witches, potions and spells.

Who am I?

I love historical fiction because it brings history and people from the past to life, showing us their struggles and their secrets—especially the women! Since my first historical novel, The Miracles of Prato, I've been paying attention to the women whose stories haven't been told. When I realized Hester Prynne is our first American historical feminist heroine—indeed, our American Eve and our original badass single mom—I knew I had to let her tell her story.  

Laurie's book list on female magic, witches, potions and spells

Laurie Lico Albanese Why did Laurie love this book?

This new and acclaimed book about the first witch trial in America in 1651 Springfield, Massachusetts, reads like a novel in which two outsiders, Hugh Parsons and his vision-seeing wife Mary (who probably suffered from paranoid schizophrenia or post-partum psychosis) become the target of an entire town. Puritan laws and Old World medieval folk tales contribute to the sense of darkness and foreboding that prevail over the town and its inhabitants, reminding us that New England was a dark land, isolated and full of enemies, hungry and poor and primed to be swept up by diabolical accusations and actions. Read this for a deep understanding of the causes and consequences of the American witch trials. 

By Malcolm Gaskill,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Ruin of All Witches as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

*A TIMES, SUNDAY TIMES AND BBC HISTORY HISTORY BOOK OF THE YEAR 2021*

'The best and most enjoyable kind of history writing' Hilary Mantel

'A bona fide historical classic' Sunday Times

Simply one of the best history books I have ever read' BBC History

In the frontier town of Springfield in 1651, peculiar things begin to happen. Precious food spoils, livestock ails and property vanishes. People suffer fits and are plagued by strange visions and dreams. Children sicken and die. As tensions rise, rumours spread of witches and heretics, and the community becomes tangled in a web of spite, distrust…


Book cover of The Witches: Suspicion, Betrayal, and Hysteria in 1692 Salem

T.M. Blanchet Author Of Herrick's End

From my list on truth that is stranger than fiction.

Who am I?

I write about magic, witches, and weirdness—and all of it is inspired by the strange and startlingly true stories that hide just below the simmering surface of America’s melting pot. As a former journalist, I learned that everyone has an interesting tale to tell. And as a fiction writer, I’ve learned that all of that truth can be spun into something even more fun and fantastical. Reality, after all, is relative. 

T.M.'s book list on truth that is stranger than fiction

T.M. Blanchet Why did T.M. love this book?

For me, Stacy Schiff’s masterpiece is the end-all, be-all resource when it comes to the history of early America’s witchcraft trials—which, it turns out, extended far beyond the village of Salem. The seed for my own novel came from one tiny line in the book’s “Cast of Characters” index: “Herrick, George, well-born, handsome Salem deputy sheriff in his thirties…Spends 1692 rounding up and transporting witches.”

By Stacy Schiff,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This book is written specifically for family or primary care physicians who encounter substance abuse in their daily practice. A Clinical Guide to Drug and Alcohol Problems provides a comprehensive overview to help diagnose and treat these problems. The first five chapters provide basic information on historical and cultural issues, plus the pharmacology of all abused drugs the physician is likely to come into contact with and the epidemiology and etiology of substance abuse problems. The author then addresses the clinical manifestions and course of addiction; diagnostic techniques; principles of clinical management, treatment, and rehabilitation of addictive and other associated…


Book cover of Salem Possessed: The Social Origins of Witchcraft

Bryan Le Beau Author Of The Story of the Salem Witch Trials

From my list on the story behind the Salem Witch Trials.

Who am I?

A native of Massachusetts and married to a descendent of two of the accused, the Salem witch trials have long fascinated me. Armed with a Ph.D. in American studies from New York University – focused on American history, literature, and religion – a significant portion of my academic career has been devoted to research, publications, classes, and public lectures on the Salem witch trials, reflected in the third edition of my book, The Story of the Salem Witch Trials. The book is only one of several books and many articles I have published on various aspects of American cultural history, many of which relate in some way to what happened in Salem in 1692.  

Bryan's book list on the story behind the Salem Witch Trials

Bryan Le Beau Why did Bryan love this book?

Salem Possessed remains one of the most discussed, or referenced, books on the Salem witch trials. 

It provides an in-depth analysis of the social, cultural, and economic conditions in Salem village, now Danvers, that led to the outbreak of 1692, in search for an answer as to why only a handful of communities succumbed to witch-hunts.

It was the first such scholarly study of the Salem witch trials, upon which historians have since built making the case that any understanding as to why witch-hunts occurred in New England rather than approached with broad strokes, requires an analysis of local conditions in each community.    

By Paul Boyer, Stephen Nissenbaum,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Tormented girls writhing in agony, stern judges meting out harsh verdicts, nineteen bodies swinging on Gallows Hill.

The stark immediacy of what happened in 1692 has obscured the complex web of human passion, individual and organized, which had been growing for more than a generation before the witch trials. Salem Possessed explores the lives of the men and women who helped spin that web and who in the end found themselves entangled in it.

From rich and varied sources-many previously neglected or unknown-Paul Boyer and Stephen Nissenbaum give us a picture of the events of 1692 more intricate and more…


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