Book Review: In Defense of Witches: The Legacy of the Witch Hunts and Why Women are Still on Trial

In Defense of Witches: The Legacy of the Witch Hunts and Why Women Are Still on Trial

As someone with a history degree, one of the most irritating questions I get asked is along the lines of “why do you care about history, it happened so long ago, what’s the point?” I could write an entire book answering this, but instead, I’ll throw a copy of In Defense of Witches: The Legacy of the Witch Hunts and Why Women Are Still on Trial by Mona Chollet at you and tell you to read it instead.

In this book, author Mona Chollet looks at the history of witch trials and why they’re still relevant today. I took multiple courses on witchcraft in university and love reading about this topic and connecting the dots between why women, in the past and now, have been persecuted against. We’re either too old, too ugly, too mysterious, too reserved (or too slutty), or a combination of all of the above. If we look at someone the wrong way, are in the wrong place at the wrong time, or wear something deemed ‘inappropriate’ by whoever is making The Decisions™️ that day, we’re to blame for everything. In the past it was a woman’s fault for her neighbor’s crop failure, today, we’re to blame for our own assaults. The madness never ends.

Regardless of the decisions that women make, people (*cough powerful, straight white men*) will find something to complain about. The chapter in this book on a women’s decision to have children hit close to home for me, as it’s something I’m constantly asked about. The decision to remain child-free is very personal, yet I’m vilified for it time and time again.

The first half of the book focuses on the history of witchcraft, whereas the latter half focuses on feminist issues and their ties to witches. Topics explored include age, children, marriage, independence, and more. It’s equal parts history lesson and social commentary, and is sure to get you riled up.

Thank you to the publisher, St. Martin’s Press, for a digital ARC of In Defense of Witches: The Legacy of the Witch Hunts and Why Women Are Still on Trial by Mona Chollet via NetGalley. It went on sale on March 8, 2022, and can be purchased wherever books are sold.

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