by Malcolm Gaskill
Reviewed by Linda:I strongly recommend this history book that reads like a novel. British historian Malcolm Gaskill is the leading expert on seventeenth-century witchcraft hysteria. Here he tells the true story of what happened when this hysteria settled in Springfield in 1651, decades before the famous cases in Salem. In this tiny river-front community, surrounded by wilderness where wolves still howled, colonists lived under the control of the powerful and wealthy William Pynchon. Gaskill details how the many difficulties and terrors of frontier life lead neighbors to turn on one another, and led eventually to a trial of Hugh and Mary Parsons, an eccentric brick-maker and his difficult wife. The community comes to life in the author’s vivid retelling.