The Ruin of All Witches

The Ruin of All Witches: Life and Death in the New World

Paperback Published on: 06/10/2022
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Bookseller Reviews

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The Ruin of All Witches
Illuminative and thought-provoking
A haunting historical reconstruction of a witchcraft case in a small beleaguered New England town, 'The Ruin of All Witches' tells the story of Mary and Hu... READ MORE
Anna at Waterstones Head Office
The Ruin of All Witches
The perfect non-fiction read for Halloween!
For as long as I can remember, I have been fascinated by witchcraft, eventually studying the european witch trials at university. Naturally, therefore, thi... READ MORE
Loricha Honer
The Ruin of All Witches
Excellent popular historical narrative.
Salem is synonymous with witches, but the earlier goings on in Springfield are perhaps less well known. Gaskill here attempts to redress the balance and on... READ MORE
Sam at Canary Wharf
The Ruin of All Witches
Tragic and compelling
This is exactly the kind of history book I like - immersive, engagingly written, and about a specific series of events. Almost novelistic. As much a fronti... READ MORE
Sean Farrell
The Ruin of All Witches
A remarkable true story of fantasy
The author describes this book as an “historical reconstruction”. I would argue that it is much more - as testified by the sheer depth of the index and not... READ MORE
Phill - Waterstones Bookseller
The Ruin of All Witches
A Carefully Wrought Story of Witchcraft And Its Effects On A Community
Springfield Massachusetts in 1651 and the community created by William Pynchon is under increasing pressure. Tensions are rising due to the extremely tight... READ MORE
Katy Wheatley


Waterstones Non-Fiction Book of the Month for October 2022 Shortlisted for the Wolfson History Prize 2022 The dark, compelling history of a colonial witch-hunt, from the author of Witchfinders. In the frontier town of Springfield in 1651, peculiar things begin to happen. Precious food spoils, livestock ails and property vanishes. People suffer fits and are plagued by strange visions and dreams. Children sicken and die. As tensions rise, rumours spread of witches and heretics, and the community becomes tangled in a web of spite, distrust and denunciation. The finger of suspicion falls on a young couple struggling to make a home and feed their children: Hugh Parsons the irascible brickmaker and his troubled wife, Mary. It will be their downfall. The Ruin of All Witches tells the dark, real-life folktale of witch-hunting in a remote Massachusetts plantation. These were the turbulent beginnings of colonial America, when English settlers' dreams of love and liberty, of founding a 'city on a hill', gave way to paranoia and terror, enmity and rage. Drawing on uniquely rich, previously neglected source material, Malcolm Gaskill brings to life a New World existence steeped in the divine and the diabolic, in curses and enchantments, and precariously balanced between life and death. Through the gripping micro-history of a family tragedy, we glimpse an entire society caught in agonized transition between supernatural obsessions and the age of enlightenment. We see, in short, the birth of the modern world.

  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
  • ISBN: 9780141991481
  • Number of pages: 336
  • Weight: 247g
  • Dimensions: 198 x 129 x 19 mm

Customer Reviews

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The Ruin of All Witches
The Ruin of All Witches by Malcolm Gaskill is a great nonfictional account of a witch hunt involving Mary and Hugh Parsons in 1651 New England. It was fasc... READ MORE
The Ruin of All Witches
Atmospheric, beautifully written narrative history
Perdita Cargill