Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 288 Pages
Published by: Crown
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 friars 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;a guide to gaining confessions of witchcraft. The friar promises he will identify the guilty woman who has brought Gods 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.
What would you do if your nasty daughter-in-law accuses you of being a witch (and could be burned at the stake) as her family is starving and you're just another hungry mouth to feed? This is the horrific death that could befall Gude, the storyteller. She has already seen the terrible repercussions of the villagers accusations towards her best friend Gunne, and she desperately tries to avoid suffering the same fate.
I found this book absolutely fascinating and it certainly made me think about the terrible deeds done to women (and men) who were (usually) falsely accused of witchcraft. Throughout the book Gude relives moments in her life and we're given a glimpse of a time when food was plentiful and all the villagers were her friends, until the crops fail for the second year and they need someone to blame.
All in all, I thought it was a great read, even if you're not interested in witches and witchcraft, which I'm not......even though I was born and raised, and still live, just a few miles from Pendle Hill, the home of the famous Pendle Witches who were tried and hanged at Lancaster Castle in 1612.
If you are interested in wicca - this is an excellent website - wiccaweb.ca