The Ruin of All Witches

The Ruin of All Witches

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A gripping story of a family tragedy brought about by witch-hunting in Puritan New England that combines history, anthropology, sociology, politics, theology and psychology.

“The best and most enjoyable kind of history writing. Malcolm Gaskill goes to meet the past on its own terms and in its own place…Thought-provoking and absorbing." —Hilary Mantel, best-selling author of Wolf Hall

In Springfield, Massachusetts in 1651, peculiar things begin to happen. Precious food spoils, livestock ails, property vanishes, and people suffer convulsions as if possessed by demons. A woman is seen wading through the swamp like a lost soul. Disturbing dreams and visions proliferate. Children sicken and die. As tensions rise, rumours spread of witches and heretics and the community becomes tangled in a web of distrust, resentment and denunciation. The finger of suspicion soon falls on a young couple with two small children: the prickly brickmaker, Hugh Parsons, and his troubled wife, Mary.

Drawing on rich, previously unexplored source material, Malcolm Gaskill vividly evokes a strange past, one where lives were steeped in the divine and the diabolic, in omens, curses and enchantments. The Ruin of All Witches captures an entire society caught in agonized transition between superstition and enlightenment, tradition and innovation.

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