In the Devil’s Snare: The Salem Witchcraft Crisis of 1692 by Mary Beth Norton

In the Devil’s Snare: The Salem Witchcraft Crisis of 1692, Mary Beth Norton, 2002 

My favorite quote: “They believed that, in the colony, they lived in a moral and spiritual wilderness, corruption on all sides, and this made them particularly vigilant, even paranoid, when it came to threats, either real or perceived.”

Notable characters: Bridget Bishop, the first woman executed in the Salem Witch Trials of 1692; Sarah Goode and Sarah Osborne, among the first women who were accused; Giles Corey, a farmer who was pressed to death after refusing to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty; Tituba, a slave — and the very first to be accused — who survived by confessing

Most memorable scene: In the Devil’s Snare was, for me, a pretty mixed bag. While I didn’t enjoy being tossed between the decades in what felt like no logical order (I seriously think I got whiplash) I liked the glimpses into the socioeconomic events surrounding the Salem Witch Trials of 1692  

Greatest strengths: In the Devil’s Snare not only covers the Salem Witch Trials themselves, but includes a lot of interesting historical details that likely influenced them. I’ve often wondered, ‘How could this happen?’ but after reading In The Devil’s Snare, I came away with a deeper understanding of what brought things to that point. One thing I’m sure of: I never would have survived as a Puritan. Or in 1692 in Salem. Or anywhere else in the world in 1692 for that matter. They didn’t even have gummy bears then. Enough said 

Standout achievements: I will say that of all the accounts of the Salem Witch Trials I’ve come across, Mary Beth Norton’s In the Devil’s Snare is easily the most detailed — and at times, a little too ambitious — that I’ve read

Fun Facts: Mary Beth Norton’s 1996 book, Founding Mothers & Fathers, was a Pulitzer Prize finalist. Personally, that just sounds like a kick in the nuts to me, but I suppose some folks are “honored just to be nominated” or whatever

Other media: There are pretty much a million things out there that cover the events of the Salem Witch Trials, but none I’m aware of that are based specifically on In The Devil’s Snare. Perhaps if Mary Beth Norton had won that Pulitzer, things would be different, but she didn’t. She lost. And here we are … 

What it taught me: In the Devil’s Snare is so full of information about historical events that I can’t help thinking Mary Beth Norton must be a real snore at dinner parties. I know some folks really love that stuff, but it pretty much just wore me down to a bloody nub. That said, this book should, if nothing else, serve as a lesson in the very real danger of group-think (and as a reminder not to invite Mary Beth Norton to your dinner party)

How it inspired me: It was this book that began my descent into all things Salem Witch Trials — so I have to give Mary Beth Norton that much. In the Devil’s Snare certainly isn’t the easiest starting point on the subject but it prompted me onto other sources of information on the subject. And after muddling through In the Devil’s Snare, they all read like Dick and Jane books in comparison, so that’s kinda nice 

Additional thoughts: While I learned a lot from this book, I never fully bought into Mary Beth Norton’s theories about the connections between New Englanders, the Indian Wars, and the “devil.” Though plausible enough, the connections didn’t quite gel and weren’t fully tied together until the conclusion, which contributed to a disjointed feeling through much of the book. Perhaps if I were to sit down and discuss the matter face-to-face with Mary Beth Norton, she could explain it to me in a way that made it all a little more feasible, but that’s not going to happen. I don’t throw dinner parties. And even if I did, I certainly wouldn’t invite Mary

Haunt me:

Read In the Devil’s Snare The Salem Witchcraft Crisis of 1692

Published by Alistair Cross

Alistair Cross grew up on horror novels and scary movies, and by the age of eight, began writing his own stories. First published in 2012, he has since co-authored The Cliffhouse Haunting and Mother with Tamara Thorne and is working on several other projects. His debut solo novel, The Crimson Corset, was an Amazon bestseller. The Black Wasp, book 3 in The Vampires of Crimson Cove series is on its way. Find out more about him at: ********************************************************************************************* In collaboration, Thorne and Cross are currently writing several novels, including the next volume in the continuing gothic series, The Ravencrest Saga. Their first novel, The Cliffhouse Haunting, was an immediate bestseller. Together, they hosted the horror-themed radio show Thorne & Cross: Haunted Nights LIVE! which featured such guests as Anne Rice of The Vampire Chronicles, Charlaine Harris of the Southern Vampire Mysteries and basis of the HBO series True Blood, Jeff Lindsay, author of the Dexter novels, Jay Bonansinga of The Walking Dead series, Laurell K. Hamilton of the Anita Blake novels, Peter Atkins, screenwriter of Hellraiser 2, 3, and 4, worldwide bestseller V.C. Andrews, Kim Harrison of the Hollows series, and New York Times best sellers Preston & Child, Christopher Rice, and Christopher Moore. ********************************************************************************************** Currently, Thorne & Cross are hosts of Thorne & Cross: Carnival Macabre, where listeners can discover all manner of demented delights, unearth terrifying treasures, and explore the dark side of the arts.

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