13 books directly related to the Salem witch trials 📚

All 13 Salem witch trials books as recommended by authors and experts. Updated weekly.

Book cover of Records of the Salem Witch-Hunt

Records of the Salem Witch-Hunt

By Bernard Rosenthal

Why this book?

This edition of the actual court papers provides not only a more accurate transcription, but also adds previously unpublished documents, background material, and extensive notes that both clarifies obscurities and identifies the individuals who wrote even the unsigned manuscripts. (Disclaimer: I was one of the project’s sub-editors.)

From the list:

The best books to understand why the Salem Witch Trials occurred

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Book cover of Narratives Of The Witchcraft Cases, 1648-1706

Narratives Of The Witchcraft Cases, 1648-1706

By George Lincoln Burr

Why this book?

This collection of contemporary 17th century works covering (mostly New England) witch-related cases before, during and after the 1692 trials was one of the earliest sources I discovered at my local public library back in the early 1960s. It provides a window into the varying reactions people had to the uncanny and what they did about it.

From the list:

The best books to understand why the Salem Witch Trials occurred

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Book cover of Witchcraft at Salem

Witchcraft at Salem

By Chadwick Hansen

Why this book?

While I do not agree with all of the author’s conclusions, this book showed me the prevalence of folk-charms in the culture, as well as the psychological reactions humans have to stress that could explain some of what happened with the “bewitched.”

From the list:

The best books to understand why the Salem Witch Trials occurred

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

The Witches: Suspicion, Betrayal, and Hysteria in 1692 Salem

By Stacy Schiff

Why 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.”

From the list:

The best “truth is stranger than fiction” books

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Book cover of A Delusion of Satan: The Full Story of the Salem Witch Trials

A Delusion of Satan: The Full Story of the Salem Witch Trials

By Frances Hill

Why this book?

I read this book because Salem was founded by another ancestor of mine, Roger Conant. He first settled in Plymouth but could not abide the Pilgrims’ fanatical creed. He was a Puritan but not a religious separatist. Most Puritans had dreams of reforming the Church of England, starting in America. Fortunately, Conant died before the Salem Witch Trials began, for he would have been shocked at these developments. (Unfortunately for him, the town stuck his statue in front of the Witch Museum.) Frances Hill’s book is a blow-by-blow account of how the hysteria of some adolescent girls captured the minds…

From the list:

The best books to understand the true founding of America

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Book cover of Gallows Hill

Gallows Hill

By Lois Duncan

Why this book?

I’ve always had an interest in the Salem Witch Trials. So Gallows Hills is a spine-tingling novel that ticks a lot of boxes for me! 17-year-old Sarah moves to a new town and is asked to be a fortune teller at a local fair. When her fortunes start coming true, people question her. Is she a witch? Then she starts having visions that link her to a time and place long ago. I love the idea that our past is always with us, and that we are doomed to repeat the past until we can deal with it!

From the list:

The best novels about reincarnation for kids and teens

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Book cover of Gothic Tales

Gothic Tales

By Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell

Why this book?

Famous during her life for her social commentary novels like North and South, Elizabeth Gaskell (1810-1865) was also a spectacularly gifted author of ghost stories (Charles Dickens, in fact, frequently included her ghost tales in his periodical Household Words). This collection would be worth it for "The Old Nurse's Story" alone - considered to be one of the finest ghost stories ever written - but it contains other bone-chilling classics as well. 

From the list:

The best collections of classic ghost stories

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

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

By Mary Beth Norton

Why this book?

While there is no one all-encompassing reason the 1692 panic proceeded as it did, Norton’s account presents the terrors and violence of the earthly warfare that dominated so many lives at that time, influenced everyone one else, and which had been largely ignored by previous accounts of the trials. 

From the list:

The best books to understand why the Salem Witch Trials occurred

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

Entertaining Satan: Witchcraft and the Culture of Early New England

By John Putnam Demos

Why this book?

While researching and writing My Enemy’s Tears, I found Entertaining Satan on the shelves of a bookstore in New York City. Sure enough, there was a chapter on Mary Bliss Parsons titled Hard Thoughts and Jealousies. A prominent historian studied my 8th great-grandmother’s case and wrote about it. Local gossip was the author’s first subject for exploration—right on, because gossip is what led to Mary’s imprisonment and trial. Demos explores the lives of many accused of witchcraft and the culture that accused them. Anyone interested in the history of women’s lives and the reasons behind the centuries-long belief…

From the list:

The best books about 17th century America

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Book cover of Storm of Witchcraft: The Salem Trials and the American Experience

Storm of Witchcraft: The Salem Trials and the American Experience

By Emerson W. Baker

Why this book?

Any list of books about women in Early America has to include one of the many books about the Salem witchcraft trials. After all, many of the key accusers and almost all the accused and executed in Salem in 1692 were women. Baker presents a more comprehensive view of the trials than most historians. He does not engage in armchair psychologizing but instead tells a balanced and well-researched story that includes new information about many of the participants in the trials, judges as well as those accused of witchcraft and those who testified against them.

From the list:

The best books about women in early America

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Book cover of March of the Microbes: Sighting the Unseen

March of the Microbes: Sighting the Unseen

By John L. Ingraham

Why this book?

Ingraham offers a broad view of microbiology in March of the Microbes, introducing the different kinds of microorganisms and where they live, their roles in human health and disease, and the way that they shape the chemistry of Earth. I like this book because it strengthens my conviction that we live on a microbial planet and that most biology is microbiology.

From the list:

The best books on microbes and their amazing world

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Book cover of The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane

By Katherine Howe

Why this book?

When a story gives me a character so real I feel like I know them, someone I can invest in, then I’ll go through anything with them—mistakes, victories, heartbreaks, joy. Connie Goodwin brings us into her life as she clears out her grandmother’s estate and then takes us with her as she discovers the remarkable life of Deliverance Dane, a midwife during the time of the Salem Witch Trials. The book swirls with mystery and romance and the power of women in any age. 

From the list:

The best historical fiction with touches of love and magic

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Book cover of The House of the Seven Gables

The House of the Seven Gables

By Nathaniel Hawthorne

Why this book?

I love this book because I’ve stood inside the house that inspired this tale, owned by Hawthorne’s cousin Susan Ingersoll, and I learned of the history associated with the story and why he wrote it. But beyond these fascinating details, Hawthorne’s knack for layering symbolism throughout his work really speaks to me. I love to do this when I write because the subconscious mind picks up these details even when we consciously may not realize it. This is part of evoking the mood essential for creating a foreboding environment.

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The best books with plot twists

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