Title: The Devil in the Shape of a Woman: Witchcraft in Colonial New England
Author: Carol Karlsen
Publisher: Norton and Company 1987
Genre: Nonfiction U.S. History
Rating: 4/5 stars
Reading Challenges: Perpetual (NonAd); Mount TBR
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 and illuminates the larger contours of gender relations in that society.
I'm always up for a good history book. And this one doesn't disappoint. I was fully into Karlsen's examinations of the events that led to and resulted from the Salem Witch Trails. More than merely a recounting, Karlsen dives into the motivations of the colonists in New England and focuses on gender dynamics of the time. This volume is very dense, but a great examination of the time. Diehard history fans will love this volume.
Next up on the TBR pile: