I visited Salem, MA earlier this year, and was excited when I saw that Shirley Jackson, author of the famous short story “The Lottery” and the recently re-read and loved Haunting of Hill House, had written The Witchcraft of Salem Village as part of a history series. It was well reviewed, so I was disappointed not to find it in the historical center’s gift shop, but later thrilled to find it for $1 at a used bookstore. And then disappointed again when I found it a slightly stylized but straightforward accounting of the trials, which might have engaged me as a child, but made me question its use of quotes and details in this creative account.

Each time I read about the witch trials, it seems largely explained by a mean-girl syndrome combined with rebelling against their parents and the repressive town in general. I find it weirdly timely, but depressing.

Not nearly as depressing as the memorial to the victims of the trials, though. It is a narrow path with seats on either side, each inscribed with the names of the hanged, who weren’t accorded proper graves. Thus, Salem is apologizing to these victims by inscribing their names on something for people to put their butts on.

Shameful. Disgusting.


4 Responses to “THE WITCHCRAFT OF SALEM VILLAGE by Shirley Jackson”

  1. Stephanie Says:

    I haven’t read this particular book, although I have read a stack of scholarly works on the Witchcraft Trials. Mostly I wanted to chime in because I just finished re-reading Shirley Jackson’s ‘We Have Always Lived in the Castle’. If you’re a fan of Jackson, I highly recommend it.

  2. girldetective Says:

    Stephanie, I have read “We Have Always Lived in the Castle” and it is fabulous. I finally broke down and figured I would never find it used and bought the Penguin illustrated cover. I’m thinking that, or Frankenstein, for next year’s October read.

  3. Stephanie Says:

    Nice! How is the Penguin illustrated cover? I was eyeing the Shirley Jackson: Novels and Stories collection, but I do love the cover of ‘We Have Always Lived in the Castle’. Have you read any of Joyce Carol Oates gothic stories? I’m in the mood for something in a similar vein to Jackson.

  4. girldetective Says: the image is here. I was thinking of getting to Angela Carter. I haven’t read Oates’ stories, but probably should.