The Witch's Trinity
Three Rivers (crown), Oct 2008, $13.95
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.
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.
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.