Witch's Trinity

( 39 )


“A gripping, well-told story of faith and truth.”
—Khaled Hosseini, bestselling author of The Kite Runner

“A disturbingly effective historical novel.”
Boston Globe

“Beautifully written, nary a word out of place, and with a few moments that throw you beyond—the way good books do ... deeply satisfying.”
San Francisco Chronicle

San Francisco Chronicle Notable Book of 2007

The ...

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“A gripping, well-told story of faith and truth.”
—Khaled Hosseini, bestselling author of The Kite Runner

“A disturbingly effective historical novel.”
Boston Globe

“Beautifully written, nary a word out of place, and with a few moments that throw you beyond—the way good books do ... deeply satisfying.”
San Francisco Chronicle

San Francisco Chronicle Notable Book of 2007

The year is 1507, and severe famine strikes a small town in Germany. A friar arrives from a large city, claiming that the town is under the spell of witches in league with the devil. He brings with him a book called the Malleus Maleficarum—“The Witch’s Hammer.” It is 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, burn her, and restore bounty.

The elderly Güde Müller suffers stark and frightening visions; none in the village knows this, and Güde herself worries that the sharpness of her mind has begun to fade. 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, and that her secret visions will be revealed.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A well-constructed novel and a gripping, well-told story of faith and truth."
—Khaled Hosseini, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Kite Runner

“Evocative and engrossing…a frightening tale of both the weakness and strength of the human soul. I was gripped immediately by the story; it reminded me of Year of Wonders and I read it in nearly one sitting.”
—Robert Alexander, national bestselling author of The Kitchen Boy and Rasputin's Daughter

“Powerful and thought-provoking, The Witch’s Trinity questions the nature of truth while bringing to vivid life the power men’s fear has over women’s lives. Haunting and unforgettable.”
—India Edghill, author of Wisdom’s Daughter

“Surprising and engrossing, The Witch’s Trinity draws you in and then keeps you gripped till the very last page.
—Martin Davies, The Conjurer’s Bird

“A linguistic enchantress has arrived among us, gifted in transmogrifying the mundanities of historical fiction into tableaux of indelible terror and abiding beauty.”
—James Morrow, author of The Last Witchfinder

The Witch’s Trinity is one of those mind-bending histories that make you wonder how many women in the 16th century hid in fear of being condemned for their healing powers. Erika Mailman superbly re-creates the terror of the women who lost, and the hope of those who managed to survive, the most egregious war of the sexes.”
—Holly Payne, author of The Virgin’s Knot

“A Gothic horror story–starvation, superstition and persecution, if you believe in witches–this is a disturbing and compelling read.”
—Tobsha Learner, author of The Witch of Cologne

“Beautifully written, nary a word out of place…deeply satisfying.”
San Francisco Chronicle

“Plunges readers into the storm of ignorance, superstition, and religious frenzy that incited mass hysteria…a disturbing story told with clarity and precision, an old story that has resonance today.”
Boston Globe

From the Hardcover edition.

Publishers Weekly

Agrandmother's family turns against her in Mailman's uneven debut historical about witch trials in 16th-century Germany. The people of Tierkinddorf, on the brink of starvation following years of bad weather and poor crops, suspect a witch has cast a spell on them. Under the guidance of a visiting friar, the townspeople burn at the stake a local healer. When their luck does not improve, attention turns to the healer's longtime friend, Güde Müller, the novel's narrator and a widow who lives with her son, Jost; her daughter-in-law, Irmeltrud; and their two children. Güde has been recently tormented with visions of witches and of the devil disguised as her late husband, and is uncertain whether the apparitions are real. When Jost and the other village men strike out on a hunting expedition, Irmeltrud begins, in her husband's absence, a campaign to finger Güde as a witch. Mailman creates an intense atmosphere of hunger, fear and claustrophobic paranoia, though the secondary cast is flat and Güde's mental state doesn't always allow for lucid narration. Fans of supernatural fiction will want to give this a look. (Sept.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307351531
  • Publisher: Crown/Archetype
  • Publication date: 10/7/2008
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 694,054
  • Product dimensions: 5.16 (w) x 7.84 (h) x 0.62 (d)

Meet the Author

ERIKA MAILMAN traces her roots to a Massachusetts relative who twice stood trial for witchcraft. She lives in Oakland,

From the Hardcover edition.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

In the second year of no harvest, 1507 Tierkinddorf, Germany

It was a winter to make bitter all souls. So cold the birds froze midcall and our little fire couldn’t keep ice from burrowing into bed with us. The fleas froze in the straw beds, bodies swollen with chilled blood.

We were hungry.

It had been a poor year for grain, like the year before, and the blasted field was now covered with snow. What game there was starved too, their ribs plain as kindling. But soon enough we ate all of those and there were no longer claw marks leading us along their little paths.

The lord’s mill, which Jost ran, hadn’t been in use for years. When I looked upon the mill wheel a fortnight ago, a cobweb stretched from the hub to the teeth. No one had any grain to grind and so our barter was based on “next harvest.” Last year, the lord had released the vassals from obligation and we had all walked the furrows of the tilled earth many times, seeking a scrap thought useless before, even chaff, something to put into our mouths. The soil was as if salted. Seeds went into it only to fester and wither. We did all manner of things to change our fortune. We prayed in the way that the priest asked us to, with the Lord’s Prayer, raising our eyes to heaven as we spake of the daily loaf God might grant us. Incense cloyed our throats as we prayed again and again, asking Mary’s help as well. We became as gaunt as the saints carved onto the boards of the altar.

And we also did what the priest asked us not to do. Facing to the west, where the sun sets, we slaughtered beasts and poured the blood onto the soil. We dabbed blood into the middle of our palms to represent the harvest we wished to hold. We sang the old songs, our voices hushed so that the ancient music would not drift back to the church. We could not eat the meat of the ritual beasts, and so with tears in our eyes we burned the goats we might have eaten. We watched the smoke drift with the cold wind, incense the earth might prefer to the sweetish cloud from the censer.

We scolded the fields as if they were children; we threw the silt at the sky in a dusty haze and screamed. Künne Himmelmann slept with a clod beneath her pillow.

And nothing changed.

Nothing changed except that snow fell.

My son, Jost, and his wife, Irmeltrud, never spake in jest anymore; never did they laugh. No one did. I felt worst for the young ones. I had already had a lifetime when food was plentiful and neighbors bantered with each other, but they had not known lightness, only heavy, stolid days. I tried now and then to tell funny stories to Alke and Matern, my grandchildren, stories my parents had once told me, of old Lenne kissing her brother by mistake, deep in her cups, or the year the maypole came crashing down and all the girls were cross for thought of the bad luck it brought. But I was the only one who made such effort, and after a time of watching the moveless faces of my family, I ceased myself. Alke and Matern were always solemn. Because they were so thin, they didn’t have the strength to race each other into the woods as children should. They played their games close to the fire, and oftentimes their shoulders were joined. I knew they sat that way to keep each other warm.

Alke, the elder, would have no doubt been the prettiest one in the village if only there were color and plumpness to her cheeks. But her blond hair, which should have shone like poppy oil, was lusterless. She had not much spirit to her. In several seasons, she would be marriageable, but would she be able to flirt at Mayfest to gain a lover, as Künne and I had done so shamelessly when we were her age?

And Matern, the boy, was made like a girl by these circumstances. Tears came to his eyes easily and he was hurt by the smallest slight. The idea of him cleaving to a woman and taking care of all the household’s needs—hunting and wood getting—seemed an impossibility. Matern would always be helpless, an eternal child created by the absence on the table. And so we all did our best to exist in the same cottage without food, letting the silence fall upon all of us. If my Hensel had been yet here, he’d have made them merry, but he died when Jost was yet a child, turning the world upside down like a plate.

“Mutter, Großmutter has hardly any soup,” said Matern, eyeing my bowl.

“Soup’s for those who work,” said Irmeltrud. “Those who barely move all the day long need little to sustain them.” Jost tried to catch her eye, but she wouldn’t let him. Such a thing was true, but she was ashamed to have spoken it.

We all sat at the table, backs straight in the formal wish that there might be real food served upon it. Members of my family had sat upon these benches for so many generations, I felt the grooves placed by their more ample bodies. Of course, they had assembled for several meals each day, while we now gathered in the late afternoon for our sole serving.

The soup looked hardly worth the having, coins of carrot floating in water barely flavored with rosemary. The sojourn in the soup pot had likely not softened these rough roots. We had not had meat since Michaelmas. When Irmeltrud turned her back to fill Matern’s bowl, Jost poured some of his soup into my mine. “No, son,” I said in a low voice. He set his jaw. When Irmeltrud sat down, I saw her notice the sudden difference in my bowl. Her eyes narrowed and I thought, as I often had, how her face expressed the very fume of Eve when she realized the apple had undone all the good. Years ago, Irmeltrud used to smile at me, thinking that earning Jost’s favor required mine. She asked my advice in all things and was hesitant as a midafternoon spider. As soon as the marriage banns were read, however, a sourness crept into her face and she has been so with me ever since.

We all held hands while Jost said the prayer of thanks. Alke’s fingers were impatient in my right hand, while my left stretched across the table to capture Matern’s. And then we all picked up our spoons and wetted our tongues.

At least it was hot.

Heat added flavor to things that had none, we had learned.

I took a spoonful into my mouth and simply sat with it, one carrot coin sitting on my tongue like a communion crumb. I closed my eyes to fully sense it, the meager gift of water with

a ghost of taste. Everyone else plunged in with quick spoons, as if it would wink at them and run out the door if they did not hurry.

“What has Ramwold said this day?” asked Irmeltrud, in between gulps. Jost and the other village men had gone to hear him read the runes.

“He said the winter is yet to stretch more grievous,” said Jost. Some Suppe dribbled from his mouth from the haste. He used no cloth to wipe his face, only his own tongue, to not waste even a drop.

“Can it be so?” asked Irmeltrud in a horrified tone. “What have we done to bring this?”

“I know not, but there is talk of a hunting party to gather together. The woods here are emptied.”

“Better to solve the reason for our hunger than to lose yourselves to a boar’s horns or worse betides. The woods are full of the devil’s minions.”

“Solve it, Mutter? How?” asked Matern with wide eyes.

“By seeking the source of the evil and suppressing it,” said Irmeltrud. She had already reached the bottom of her bowl, despite her talking, and clapped it down on the board. Her eyes snaked over to mine. “Someone is making mischief and bringing misery to this village,” she said. “One who has made a bargain with the devil and benefits from our distress.”

“We all toil in sin,” said Jost. “Yet I know of no one who would have struck such a bargain.”

“Not all toil,” she said, and looked into my eyes. I saw no warmth there. “There’s talk of old Künne Himmelmann.”

“What manner of talk?” Jost’s voice took on an edge of anger.

“The Töpfers say their hen has stopped laying. She is simply dried of eggs. And this happened after Künne sat down on a rock by their door.”

“Everyone sits at that rock,” said Jost. “The children sit there to play, the women sit on that rock to card their wool. And an old one such as Künne, to be walking the road, she’d have to tarry a bit to rest her feet.”

“But the hen?”

“The hen is as hungry as the rest of us and hasn’t the will to push out eggs,” said Jost.

I stared down at the rind of carrot spinning slowly in my bowl. Künne was my friend. I remembered when her hair had been flaxen, her braids thick as a goose neck. Now they were thin and gray, straggled like mine. I had taken only one sip from the bowl but could eat no more. If Künne was being talked of in this way, she was in danger. A Dominican friar had come to our village a week ago—he had been the one to speak of God punishing one of our villagers by withholding the harvest from everyone. I nodded to Jost and began to push my bowl across the board to him. He smiled weakly, knowing what Künne was to me. My shaky fingers, barely recognizable to me now as those that once easily did my bidding, pushed too hard and the bowl spilled.

“Fool!” said Irmeltrud as she stood and tried to scoop the liquid back into the bowl. “You’ve wasted an entire bowl. Would that you worked for it yourself, you’d treat it a little more carefully!”

It was true. I’d done naught to prepare for this repast. My fingers were too shaky for the knife to cut the carrots and my frame too frail to carry water to the cauldron.

The soup dripped down onto the dirt below. Jost’s face registered the regret that he had given me of his, and now it was lost to both.

“I don’t know how we’re to keep all these mouths full, Jost,” said Irmeltrud, turning her ire to him. “It’s barely enough to even wet the teeth. There’s too many in this house.”

“Calm yourself. All’s here that needs to be, and we will fill our stomachs when winter passes, God willing,” he said.

“I can barely think, I’m so hungry!” she yelled, and both children jumped at the loud bark of her tone. “And here she sits all the day, doing nothing but dreaming! All her age have already gone! My parents died many years ago! Yet she keeps sitting at our table, opening her mouth for whatever food we have!”

Jost got up from the table. “She is my mother, wife. Pray that Matern treats you kindly when you are gray. Have pity; she’s worked her entire life and now she deserves her rest.” He put on his cloak and hat and brushed past her to go out the door. A shattering wind came in and swirled around us before the door shut.

For a moment I thought Jost’s words had shamed her. She stared down at the table. Then she got up to get a kitchen cloth, which she pressed to the wet board to soak up the soup, then put in Matern’s mouth to suck. “You need to earn your keep, old woman,” she said in a tired voice. She reached across and cradled Alke’s cheek in her hand. Alke concentrated only on the thin sheen of soup on her spoon.

“Look at my hands,” I whispered. “Scarcely more useful than those buried in the graveyard, and with little more flesh on them. How can I put them to use?”

“By holding them out flat for alms. Beg for your meal, old woman. I’m through with feeding you.”

I stared.

“That’s right, Güde. Get your garments on and beg from the village. Get these children some food!”

Alke now licked the bowl that had been spilled, her pink tongue darting down to the bottom to catch the halfway salty flavor. Matern stared at his mother solemnly, still suckling the cloth she had placed in his mouth.

I stood to go to my straw mattress in the corner and shun her wrath, but she put her hands on my shoulders and funneled me to the door. “Here then! Here’s your scarf, there, and there,” she said as she wrapped it around my head and neck. She thrust my cloak at me.

“You’re sending me out to beg?” I asked. Even though my voice had gotten reedy as I aged, I was surprised at the frail sound coming from me.

“Your mind is going along with your body,” said she. “Haven’t I said it cleanly?”

She pushed me outside and I shivered instantly in the shock of cold. The sky was a large gray stone pressing down upon the treetops. I turned to press my hand to the door to stop her, but she was stronger and it closed.

I stared at the wood in disbelief.

I banged my palm against the door. “Irmeltrud,” I called. “Please let me in. It is freezing as night out here. It’s snowing.”

She made no reply.

“Please,” I cried. I curled both hands into fists and battered them against the door.

My fists stilled and I listened to the wind. Inside I heard Matern begin to wail. I hammered more, thinking of Hensel and his mallet plugging the logs of this cottage into place, decades ago. The same thump, thump. My husband had built this Hütte, and our own son’s wife had locked its door against me.


They take the unguent, which, as we have said,

they make at the devil’s instruction from the limbs of children . . .

whereupon they are immediately carried up into the air, either by

day or by night, and either visibly or, if they wish, invisibly.

—Malleus Maleficarum

I turned my back to the wind and saw Jost’s footprints. Although it made my bones ache to climb the hill behind the granary, I did so to follow him. Those with candles were lighting them now, and the village was spread before me, beginning to glow, with the tavern lit brightest. I looked across to Künne’s cottage yard, where in the fading light I saw someone, far too short to be my Jost, milking her goat for her. I shivered and pulled the cloak tightly around me so that the garment was doubled across my front. I remembered a time when my girth was such that the stitches strained to keep me covered. How long was I to wander?

From the Hardcover edition.

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Reading Group Guide

1. Before the famine, Tierkinddorf was a close-knit community where families lived side by side for generations. In light of this, why do you think the villagers were so willing to accept that one of their own was in league with the devil? Consider the very human need to have a scapegoat in difficult times. Why does having someone to blame for our woes seem to lessen them?

2. Describe Güde’s life. What is her position in the village? At home? On page 9, Jost admonishes his wife for treating his mother harshly but then leaves before making sure the fight is over; as a result, Irmeltrud sets Güde out to beg for her food. What does their treatment of the old woman say about them?

3. On the night that Güde’s daughter-in-law throws her out of the house, she wanders in the woods searching for Jost. Why is Güde afraid of the forest? What does it represent? Terrified and frozen, Güde believes she meets the devil and his followers there; she is tempted to sign his book in exchange for food. Does she do it? Is the whole event the work of an age-addled mind, or true evil?

4. Why does Irmeltrud hate Güde? Do you think her feelings toward her mother-in-law would have been different in a more plentiful time?

5. On page 49, Irmeltrud tells a neighbor that although Künne’s suffering at the hands of the friar didn’t put soup in her mouth, it did fill her somehow. What is Güde’s reaction to this statement? What does Irmeltrud mean by this? Why might Künne’s suffering make her feel better?

6. Jost puts himself in considerable danger with his defense of Künne, his mother’s oldest friend,at her trial. Why does he do this? What do his actions reveal about him? How does Künne try to help Güde before she is burned at the stake as a witch? Does it work?

7. Is Jost a good son?

8. Why does Jost refuse to gather wood for the fire meant to kill Künne even though he knew food for his family would be the reward? Why is Irmeltrud eager to do the task? Do they both have valid reasons? Güde is horrified when she learns of her family’s involvement but eats the meat her daughter-in-law’s treachery earns them. On page 99, she says, “Hunger has turned me into an animal.” How are these words significant in light of the events in The Witch’s Trinity? What other characters in this book could have rightly said the same of themselves?

9. After Künne’s silent death fails to convince the friar that the devil is gone from Tierkinddorf, Güde considers killing herself (page 127). In her position, what would you have done?

10. Why does Irmeltrud accuse her mother-in-law of witchcraft? What does she have to gain in doing so? Do you think she really believes that Güde is a witch? Why does the friar begin to suspect Irmeltrud of witchcraft?

11. Imprisoned and awaiting trial, what is Güde’s reaction when Irmeltrud is tossed into jail as well? Did you think that this shared trial would bring the two closer together? Hidden in her skirt, Güde has two of the Pillen she gave to deaden Künne’s pain. Does she plan to share them with her daughter-in-law? Given the choice, would you have shared with Irmeltrud? Does choosing not to share bring you to her level of cruelty?

12. As the oldest woman in the village, Güde has seen everything–and most everyone–she loves die before she is tried and convicted of witchcraft. What memories comfort her through her ordeal? Is she afraid of death? What is the one thing she wants most before she dies, and why?

13. The witch trials in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible represent the hunt for Communists led by Senator Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s. Is there a similar hidden meaning of the trials in The Witch’s Trinity? Consider who is accused and the general mood of the village before and during the trials as part of your answer.

14. During her trial on page 192, Güde accuses Herr Kueper, the man who accused her of souring a pail of milk. Why does she do it? She also confesses to crimes she did not commit. Why would an innocent person take responsibility for things she did not do? In her position would you admit you were a witch in hopes of getting a reprieve or even just a quicker death? Or would you maintain your innocence at any cost?

15. How does Güde’s granddaughter, Alke, become involved in the trial? How does Güde save her from being tried for witchcraft? Why does Irmeltrud suddenly join forces with Güde?

16. What saves Güde and Irmeltrud from the fire? Who is the woman that the hunting party brings back with them from the woods? Why is she familiar to Güde? What is the old woman’s reaction to seeing the other woman caged?

17. What happens to the friar? Would you consider his end to be justly deserved? What happens in the village afterward? Does it matter if the people are sorry or regretful considering what happened to the women they condemned?

18. What happens to Güde at the end of the novel? Are her memories of the past forever tarnished by the trials? How does having her granddaughter with her help her to live in the present? Both Güde and Alke refuse to see Irmeltrud again after the trial–why? Would you be able to forgive her? Would you be able to forgive any of those involved?

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 39 )
Rating Distribution

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 39 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 12, 2007

    A haunting tale of paranoia and fanaticism

    Human nature can be strange. The mentality of a mob for example, shows how brutal people can become when surrounded by others who are filled with passionate anger. Erika Mailman shows us through the eyes of an elderly woman what it would have been like to live in the Middle Ages when witchcraft was thought to be the cause of any misfortune. The famine described in this small village of Tierkinddorf, Germany is haunting. It made me feel strange reading the novel while having my lunch. I began to feel guilty knowing that the characters were willing to accuse others of witchcraft just to get a bite to eat. A scapegoat was needed to place all the blame of the village's misfortune. It was thought that then, all things would revert back to days of plenty. That the famine would end. Paranoia and suspicion gripped the community, while some used this an opportunity to point the finger of blame at those they held a grudge. An accusation of milk spoiling was enough to damn someone to being burned to death, and you didn't even have to bring forth the spoiled milk as evidence. Your word was enough, if coupled with other such scurrilous complaints, to condemn someone to death. Given today's sensibilities the thought of public execution is abhorrent. However, it is a gruesome part of our history that drawing and quarterings, beheadings, hangings, and burning at the stake were all done in the village square to serve as a lesson to all. Beware or it may happen to you. The Witch's Trinity is a potent tale whose ending surprised me. I highly recommend it.

    9 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 2, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    A beautifully written page turner

    A well-told tale full of vivid characters and details of village life in early 16th century Germany. Tense, and sometimes terrifying, the story of Gude's (and others') deprivation and persecution at the hands of the powerful makes the novel as relevant to citizens of the 21st century as to those of Gude's time. A suspenseful, moving story told with great empathy by a writer of exceptional skill.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 23, 2010

    Bought based on the Title alone, proved a great read

    This is very historically correct, interesting and frightening all at once. Characters very interesting. Plot, excellent. Bad guys, really bad. Good guys, really good. Wow. I do not often break out of my mold in buying books, but this was really good. (I stick to historical romances or the classics, Jane Austen, etc)

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 15, 2009


    A study of human ignorance and superstitions...well written.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2008

    Review by Mirella Patzer - Historical Fiction Author

    THE WITCH'S TRINITY By Erika Mailman In the 16th century, a great famine ravages the town of Tierkinddorf, Germany. As the villagers slowly starve, a ruthless Dominican friar arrives. He has been on a mission, travelling from location to location to town to purge Germany of witches. The villagers are desperate to blame the famine on someone or something. Gude, an old woman, lives with her only son, Jost the miller, his wife Irmeltrud, and their children Alke and Mattern. Irmeltrud deeply resents having to share what little food they have with her old mother-in-law and is cruel-hearted towards her behind Jost¿s back. Meanwhile, the witch hunt continues and Kunne, the village healer and herbalist and Gude¿s dearest friends is accused of witchcraft. She is blamed for turning milk sour and for someone¿s hen refusing to lay eggs. Gude can do nothing as she watches her friend burned at the stake on false accusations. And still, the famine continues. While Jost is away hunting for food with several other men from the village, suspicion and hatred turn and point on Gude, fuelled by the false testimony of her own daughter-in-law, Irmeltrud. The accusation lands Gude in the witch¿s tower to await trial. Soon, the witch hunt turns upon Irmeltrud when a barren neighbour blames her for witchery to claim the children as her own. Sprinkled with elements of paganism, mystical dreams, dementia, and hatred, Erika Mailman explores the effect of starvation and fear upon the human spirit in this marvellous novel about witch trials in the late middle ages. Mailman¿s passion for witches and witch trials is born from her own heritage where one of her own ancestors was accused of witchcraft during the early years of American history. A deeply moving book which churns the emotions and keeps you turning the pages.

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 2013

    captures the horror

    The time period was one of suspicion and treachery as friends, enemies, and even family members used accusations of witchcraft as a means to avenge real or imagined and small or large slights. The Witch's Trinity captures the horror and helplessness of females accused of being a witch or using witchcraft. There is the constant fear of being accused and then the utter terror of being thrown in "jail" and subjected to the ridiculous "trials" held by clergy.

    The main character suffers through all of this while first watching a friend be accused and judged and then through the daughter-in-laws accusations against her. The details bring the historical story to life but the plot is simplistic and predictable.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 7, 2013

    Enjoyable but frightening

    Not because it's ghoulish hags flying on broomsticks, but because it's about peoples' fears and what can lead ordinary sane people to do the unspeakable. Well written. Brava, Ms. Mailman.

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  • Posted April 28, 2012

    This is a book I'll never forget!

    This is a book I'll never forget!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 3, 2011

    Good read, I have recommended this book to friends!

    Well done and a fast read. Those who appreciate historical fiction will enjoy this book.

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  • Posted April 15, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    The Trinity

    A quick read on a subject matter that has been written about over and over. This story had some new twists, not everyone gets burned at the stake, but over all nothing substantial to it. The characters are mildly developed and great leaps are taken through out the book linking some of the story lines together. Not the best on the subject, but definitely not the worst. Only recommend for a quick, light, mindless read.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 7, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:


    The Witch's Trinity by Erika Mailman is definitely one of the best books I've ever read and will be part of my permanent library. Don't assume it is the typical story of the witch hunts, though this is a subject that you can guess the outcome you can not do so in this suspenseful, heart wrenching story. The characters are so exquisitely depicted and the words are practically poetry, so artistically gathered and spilled off the authors pen. I loved this book and if you love the art of writing and storytelling you will, too!

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  • Posted October 17, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Great historical fiction

    In 1507, the villagers of Tierkinddorf are hungry and angry as this is the ¿second year of no harvest¿ that follows several poor harvests. They begin to believe a witch has cast an evil satanic curse on them causing nasty weather that led to poor harvests and now just about no crops.<BR/><BR/>A Dominican friar traveling from town to town to expose witches arrives to the rejoicing of most of the villagers who believe he will uncover the identity of the culprit. He points the finger at Kunne the healer who swears to God she is innocent. Her dismayed best friend elderly Gude feels helpless as she watches Kunne burned at the stake. She also is concerned with her nightmares about witches, the devil and her late husband. Thinking one less mouth to feed, Gude¿s resentful daughter-in-law Irmeltrud begins a campaign when her spouse is away desperately hunting that accuses her widowed mother-in-law of witchcraft.<BR/><BR/>The atmosphere that leads to cynicism, paranoia and witch hunts is incredibly thick as Erika Mailman provides a deep look at a small early sixteenth century German village blaming famine on witches cursing the villagers. The Friar¿s presence quickly leads to neighbors pointing the fingers at one another. Although Gude as the narrator at times is hard to understand because of her mental instability that adds to the feel of the era in which a bit of craziness means witch. Fans will enjoy this engaging look while wondering whether Gude¿s ¿visions are supernatural or deranged in origin.<BR/><BR/>Harriet Klausner

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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