Book Reviews / Fiction

The Witch’s Trinity

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As they light the pyre, I swear that I can hear the wood crackling and screaming . I cry as they cheer around the fire, driven by greed, hate and fear. But she doesn’t scream, she won’t give them satisfaction. Finally, she crumples to the ground and they let the fire “purify” her. Her fate after that is to be buried in an unmarked grave where no one will remember her. Forgotten by all. I clenched by teeth and threw the book clear across the room.

“The Witch’s Trinity” by Erika Mailman is an emotional roller coaster that will have you angry, sad, and triumphant at every new turn. Mailman weaves a tale of Tierkinddorf, a German village in the early 1500′s where witches were blamed for everything from famine to sour milk. Historically, Pope Innocent VIII specifically singled out Germany as a nest of Satanic witchcraft in “Summis Desiderantes Affectibus” in 1484. In a time when the crops failed and game was hard to find, the only possible explanation was that there is a witch amongst them. When the friar arrives armed with a book called the Malleus Maleficarum—“The Witch’s Hammer”, growling stomachs overpower the sound of thunder and reason.


Güde Müller, an elderly woman, lives with her kind son and mean spirited daughter-in-law. When dinner becomes simply a bowl of snow, the daughter-in-law glares at Güde with hatred and burden. Suffering from memory loss, Güde begins having visions of her dead husband and devilish figures. Did she sign the devil’s book? Is what she seeing real? Being the oldest in the village and having herb knowledge – she is suddenly the object of everyones woes.

Living so close to Salem, the witch trials stain our history in Massachusetts. Similar to “The Crucible” by Arthur Miller, “The Witch’s Trinity” lifts the veil to reveal the dark aspects of society and illustrates how fear can turn a trusted neighbor into an enemy. It is rare to read a book about witches where the focus is not on if witchcraft is real or not.

This is not a mystery about who the witch is or a fantasy where people are turned into toads or a romance where men fall under a witch’s spell. This is a book about a group of people, hungrier than we have ever been, led by a man of social standing. He holds up a bowl of food in the air as a reward for information. Your children are starving, your mother is weak. Tales like this only bring about one fundemental question. How much would you sell your neighbor for?

Since 1993 the city council of 17 German and 2 Swiss cities have issued a resolution to exonerate the victims of the local witch hunt and have put up commemorative plaques. The City Council of Düsseldorf issued a resolution in November 2011 to exonerate the victims of the witches craft trials and the City Council of Cologne exonerated Katharina Henot and the other victims of the persecution of witches in Cologne on June 28, 2012. The victims of the witch craft trials of Salem/USA have been exonerated consecutively in 1711, in 1957 and in 2001. –“Witch trials in the early modern period”


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