Skip to product information
1 of 1

The Ruin of All Witches - Malcolm Gaskill

The Ruin of All Witches - Malcolm Gaskill

Penguin UK

Regular price €15,95 EUR
Regular price Sale price €15,95 EUR
Sale Sold out
Shipping calculated at checkout.

Our take

This book retells a true story that took place in 1636, in the town of Springfield, Massachusetts, at the frontier of the white settlement in New England. Gaskill is an academic historian specialising in witchcraft, magic, crime and the persecution of witches in the 16th and 17th centuries. Drawing from historical records, he reconstructs a story of a small isolated community of 45 residents that faced a constant threat of conflict with the Indians and a hostile natural environment. Gaskill recreates the atmosphere of this small town and draws vivid portraits of the main protagonists - a married couple whose marriage slowly disintegrates under the pressures of life in a small remote community. As superstition and paranoia grip this town, suspicions of witchcraft further erode their relationship. Contrary to what you might expect, the wife started spreading wild stories of her husband’s witchcraft, further feeding the community’s spiralling descent into darkness. This extraordinary book is likely to surprise you in many ways, and if you’re looking for a historical novel that reads as a thriller, this book may just be what you need.

Publisher's description

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.

Praise and awards


'A bona fide historical classic' Sunday Times

'Simply one of the best history books I have ever read' BBC History

'Gaskill tells this deeply tragic story with immense empathy and compassion, as well as historical depth' The Guardian

'As compelling as a campfire story ... Gaskill brings this sinister past vividly to life' Erica Wagner, Financial Times

Shipping & Returns

This title may take slightly longer to ship - up to 10 working days

You can return any book within 14 days of delivery. Unfortunately, as a small business we cannot cover any shipping costs associated with returning an item nor do we refund the delivery costs you paid when ordering the book

View full details
Carbon-neutral shipping with Shopify Planet
Carbon-neutral shipping on all orders
Powered by Shopify Planet