Friday, November 21, 2008

The Witch's Trinity by Erika Mailman

The year is 1507, and a friar has arrived in Tierkinddorf, a remote German village nestled deeply in the woods. The village has been suffering a famine, and the villagers are desperately hungry. The friar’s arrival is a miracle, and when he claims he can restore the town to prosperity, the men and women gathered to hear him rejoice. The friar has a book called the Malleus Maleficarum—“The Witch’s Hammer”—a guide to gaining confessions of witchcraft. The friar promises he will identify the guilty woman who has brought God’s anger upon the town; she will be burned, and bounty will be restored. Tierkinddorf is filled with hope. Neighbors wonder aloud who has cursed them and how quickly can she be found? They begin sharing secrets with the friar.

Güde Müller, an elderly woman, has stark and frightening visions—recently she has seen things that defy explanation. None in the village know this, and Güde herself worries that perhaps her mind has begun to wander—certainly she has outlived all but one of her peers in Tierkinddorf. Yet of one thing she is absolutely certain: She has become an object of scorn and a burden to her son’s wife. In these desperate times her daughter-in-law would prefer one less hungry mouth at the family table. As the friar turns his eye on each member of the tiny community, Güde dreads what her daughter-in-law might say to win his favor.

Then one terrible night Güde follows an unearthly voice and the scent of charred meat into the snow-filled woods. Come morning, she no longer knows if the horror she witnessed was real or imagined. She only knows that if the friar hears of it, she may be damned in this life as well as the next.

The Witch’s Trinity beautifully illuminates a dark period of history; it is vividly imagined, elegantly written, haunting, and unforgettable.
When I read books like this I am always left thinking. How can we live in a world where people are capable of burning innocent women on stakes! We might think that we are better now and incapable of these atrocious acts, but when it comes right down to it, the hate has continued. We might not be burning witch's, but there is so much hate and blame in this world. I love to think we have moved away from the actions of the people in this book, but we have just found new ammunition and new enemies. While the townsfolk in this book blindly followed a friar because he was the voice of god, think of the men who followed a leader that flew planes into buildings and killed countless people; or another leader who declared war on helpless people and was allowed to legally kill innocent people for the crimes of a few select. We live in a scary world, as much as we would like to think that we are advanced...

Mailman is an excellent writer. Believe me, when I was reading about the living flesh being burned in raging fires, I could almost picture it happening right in front of me. I almost heard the screams of the innocent as they felt flames tear at their bodies. It was both captivating and disturbing that an author could achieve that. Frankly, books like this scare me. While this is a work of fiction, things like this really happened. A finger was pointed and next thing you know, you were a witch! Those that condemned others to death were just as easily sentenced to death themselves. The 'tests' were farces and the punishments and torture devices were severe. I am always horrified to know that people are capable of such cruelty, but if I was there, who is to say which side I would find myself on. I look back on it now and say I would never be involved, but things were a lot different back then...

So, while I can't say that I totally loved this book, I did really appreciate it. It was just disturbing, as books of this subject matter always are. I will definitely be keeping my eyes open for the next book that Mailman releases. She does tell a really good story, even if I got thinking about things totally unrelated. If you were meant to like the character, you liked the character, and if you were meant to hate them, you hated them. It think she has lots of potential!


  1. Wonderful review! I really, realy want to read this book! I tried to win a copy but no luck. It's on my TBR for now.

  2. I have had it since it came out, so it was nice to finally get around to reading it! It was a good read. Maybe someone else will have a contest now that the paperback is out. I look forward to hearing your thoughts when you get around to reading it!

  3. Great review, I've have this on my wishlist. Reading about the Witch Crusades is always so eye-opening, I've found myself thinking that although we as a society don't burn people alive, the stigmas we attach to certain people or groups, and the way we treat them are sometimes just as horrible.

  4. I recently added this book to my TBR collection and am really looking forward to reading it as it's a subject matter that has long interested me. Thanks for the great review.

    I think you are right--that this kind of persecution and hate still exists today--the targets are what vary.


Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

I am so sorry, but I turned anonymous commenting off. I have had it from the very beginning, but that is how the spam is getting by my spam filter at the moment. If it is a big deal I will turn it back on and moderate all comments. I also changed moderation from older than 14 days to older than 7.