Whether it’s a recent interest or a long-term obsession, the Salem Witch Trials are an incredibly important part of American history.
As a result, there are plenty of books that cover the subject in great detail, and even more that use the trials as a form of a plot point for a story too, so if you’re looking for some great books based on the Salem witch trials for both adults and teens alike, then look no further!
We’ve managed to create a compilation of some of the best books out there on the Salem Witch Trials, which includes plenty of classics for good measure too, so there’s a chance you might have encountered one or two of these on your search already.
So, let’s take a look at some of the best books on the Salem witch trials out there, so you can choose which ones you think are going to be the right ones for you to add to your collection!
19 Best Salem Witch Trials Books You Need To Read
The Salem witch trials have a massive history and a huge sense of mystery surrounding them, which is exactly why so many authors use this moment in history as the inspiration and setting for their own stories, which are often interwoven into the real-life tragedy of the trials themselves.
Starting off this list in a strong way is arguably one of the most intense novels written about the trials; The Heretic’s Daughter.
This book immediately transports you right to the city of Salem itself, which was tearing itself apart as hysteria and superstition set in.
This particular novel focuses on the Carrier family, which sees both daughter and mother accused of witchcraft, and how they deal with the consequences of the accusations.
If you want to try and get a better understanding of how life might have been for an accused witch, this novel provides great insight.
- Historically accurate
- Disturbingly immersive
- The story is somewhat slow-moving at times
If you’re looking for a book entrenched in secrets and mystery, then The Physick Book Of Deliverance Dane certainly won’t disappoint you.
Set in the mysterious town of Salem, this novel follows the story of Connie Goodwin, who is tasked with selling her old Grandmother’s abandoned house.
The story takes a dark turn when Connie later discovers an old book that contains a whole host of spells, but what else will Connie find out about Deliverance Dane? And what exactly did her family have to do with the Salem witch trials?
- The plot is both intriguing and engaging for the reader
- It utilizes the history of the Salem witch trials well
- The past and the present link well without interruption
- Connie can sometimes seem a little bit stupid considering she’s a college student
- The main antagonist can be identified early on
For those who are looking to learn more about one of the most notable stories of the Salem witch trial era, then reading about Tituba is an absolute must, and those who have already read plenty of non-fiction books about the subject should already be aware of who she is.
This book, which has been translated from French into English by Richard Philcox, is one of the very few fictional books that include Tituba, who was a West African Slave, in its stories, and is a great read for those looking to understand more about the combination of sexism and racism of the time.
- One of the most poignant stories surrounding the Salem witch trials
- The writing style is both empowering and inspiring
- The themes in this book are incredibly heavy, and definitely aren’t suitable for non-adults to read
Trying to find good books about the Salem witch trials for middle schoolers can be difficult, especially when it comes to ensuring that they remain suitable for them to read.
But this is where A Break With Charity comes in, as it’s often one of the most commonly recommended books about the trials that is suitable for middle schoolers.
With the main character Susanna in a dilemma in choosing who she should save, this depiction of the trials is a great introduction for those beginning to show interest in this period of history without providing them with anything too horrifying.
- Based on real people involved with the trials
- Authentic language while remaining readable for younger audiences
- Contains many themes that are still compelling and true in the modern day
- Susanna as a character can seem rather weak, likely to go unnoticed by younger audiences though
Providing an entirely fresh and wholly unique perspective on the trials, Crane Pond follows Samuel Sewall, a man who aims to be a great family man, a responsible and respectable citizen, an honest puritan, and above all, a fair and honest judge.
As one of the very few judges who played a part in the trials to later come forward and apologize for his role in condemning so many innocent people to their untimely deaths.
As a result, this biographical literary fiction book is an excellent demonstration of how the culmination of religion, superstition, faith, and law came together to form one of the evilest times in history.
- Provides a fresh and introspective look into the trials
- Sewall has a unique place in the history of the trials
- The novel reads better for those who have prior knowledge of the topic to begin with, as the story tends to skip over some important events of the time.
As Lauren Durough begins to defy the expectations of her family at every twist and turn, from rejecting Stanford in favor of a state college and wanting to make her own salary, her hunt for work brings her to librarian Abigail Boyles, who then tasks Lauren with transcribing the journal of her ancestor Mercy Hayworth, who was a tragic victim of the witch trials that took place in Salem.
As Lauren delves into the work, she becomes more and more transfixed by the events of the time and finds it hard not to become influenced by the rash judgments and superstition that characterized that period of time, and as Lauren learns more about Mercy, she also learns more about herself.
- Full of interesting themes
- The characters are both well-written and enjoyable
- The book itself is well-researched in regard to the witch trials
- Can sometimes be hard to relate to Lauren given her background
- The story is perhaps not as moving as it should be
Written by prominent historian and decorated author Stacy Schiff, The Witches: Suspicion, Betrayal, And Hysteria In 1692 Salem is a nonfictional insight into the trials that takes a deeper look into the spread of hysteria and anxiety that fueled the flames of the trials themselves.
Not only does this book provide a fresh and intriguing perspective on the trials, but it also outlines the very important lessons that can be learned from what happened in Salem in 1692, which can still be taken into consideration in the modern day.
- A deep analysis of the hysteria and public anxiety that was caused both by the trials and caused the trials
- The book is well-research and incredibly insightful
- Many readers find that the book is disorganized, and each of the chapters is too drawn out, making it a difficult read.
Although it takes place before the trials and taking place in Connecticut as opposed to Salem, the trials are still mentioned in this young readers’ book which combines the eeriness of witchcraft theme while discussing the very common desire of wanting to fit in, which is something that many young readers will certainly resonate with.
For those who are looking for a book for a middle schooler eager to learn more about those accused of witchcraft and the time period, this book is considered to be a great start.
- Old-fashioned yet clean storytelling
- Great historical fiction for young people
- Good coming of age story
- Character development outside of the main character is poor
- Can sometimes be hard to sympathize with Kit.
Considered by many to be one of the best books set in Salem, The House Of Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne is a horrifying story that depicts the feuding families who are both cursed as a result of the Pyncheon family having built a house on stolen land.
With the depressing atmosphere and the haunted ongoings of the house, it is the enigmatic Clifford Pyncheon who seems unphased as he strolls around the house, almost as if it would seem that there are hidden passages that exclusively he is aware of.
What’s even spookier about this story is that the house actually exists and is visitable in Salem!
- Has everything a story about an eerie and supposedly haunted house needs
- Provides a great amount of suspense and horror
- Is a visitable attraction
- The story is somewhat drawn out, and could in reality be much shorter than what it actually is
Written using over 20 years of deep archival research, The Salem Witch Trials: A Day By Day Chronicle Of A Community Under Siege is arguably one of the most informative and comprehensive insights into the events of the Salem witch trials, which makes it perfect for those who are just beginning to read into the subject.
With each day providing a look at how the town’s people slowly descended into hysteria, it sheds light on the tragedy of the trials and is certainly an emotional retelling.
- Super informational and informative
- Probably the best book for those new to the subject
- Is also easy to read
- The format of the book itself is slightly choppy
There’s a good chance that you might have read The Crucible when studying literature in high school.
If you haven’t had the chance to read this classic by Arthur Miller, then you absolutely should, as it’s considered to be one of the classic books surrounding the tragedy of the Salem witch trials.
Following the life of Puritan girl Abigail Williams in 1692, it gives the reader an insight into the hysterical nature of the town and its people and is a screenplay that really pulls you into the drama of the period.
- Well-written, with exceptionally beautiful dialogue
- Highlights the land-lust and property issues that partly fueled the trials.
- Somewhat sexualizes the women involved, which is wholly unnecessary, especially to those who know more about the trials in the first place.
1692 saw Salem become embroiled in one of the biggest tragedies in American history, with the widespread witchcraft hysteria causing a huge public panic, one that led to the deaths of more than 19 entirely innocent people.
As a result, this tragedy has also become one of the most immensely researched topics too, and in A Storm Of Witchcraft, Baker sets out to explain how the terror and anxiety that led to the tragedy was a result of a number of different factors, including religions, war, and politics, as well as popular imagination, helped to fuel the flames of this horrific period of time.
For those who are looking to understand exactly why these trials took place in more depth, then this book is definitely an excellent read.
- Great insight into the trials and why they took place
- Helps to understand more about why the public became so hysterical
- Looks at America’s issues surrounding the trials that informed the tragedy
- So packed with information that it’s sometimes hard to read
- Sometimes uses some complex terms that readers might not be familiar with.
For those who are looking for some good Young Adult (YA) books surrounding the Salem witch trials, then starting out with Conversion by Katherine Howe is almost certainly a good choice.
As the girls who find themselves attending St. Joan’s Academy are making their way through their usual high school years, with the usual pressures of exams and boys, during their studies of Miller’s The Crucible, things begin to awry, leading to the same hysteria, rumors, and accusations that plagued Salem all those years ago.
Although this book isn’t inherently set in Salem, it is set in Danvers, Massachusetts, which is actually where many of the accusations during the real witch trials began.
- Includes scenes based in the past in Salem, as well as the modern-day Danvers
- The repetition of themes between the past and present makes for interesting storytelling
- Is smart yet remains accessible, making it the perfect read for Young Adults
- It takes a while for the stories of the past and presents to come together
- Some of the plot points are slightly nonsensical
- Despite involving the witch trials, the book isn’t particularly eerie or scary
When it comes to finding great historical learning resources for young children, there’s no doubt that the What Was? Who Was? Books are one of the best ways of providing elementary school children with a fun yet informative resource into the past that remains accessible.
This book covers the history of the Salem witch trials at a level that is both appropriate and understandable for kids, taking a look at Abigail Williams and Betty Parris all the way back in 1692 Salem.
- Easy to understand for younger audiences.
- A short read that doesn’t require a big attention span
- Helps simplify a complex subject in history
- Doesn’t cover the full reasoning for the trials, but some of this is to ensure that it’s appropriate for children to read.
Written by historians and authors Paul Boyer and Stephen Nissenbaum, Salem Possessed: The Social Origins Of Witchcraft provides an insightful look into society at the time the Salem witch trials took place, as well as commentary on both the causes and the effects of the trials at the time they happened.
This book also highlights some of the key people involved with the hangings that took place on Gallows Hill, as well as some of the pressures and social dynamics that ultimately resulted in so many innocent people being executed.
- Another great insight into the trials and the social dynamics which caused them
- Great profiles on some of the key figures of the trials
- Easy to follow and understand
- Both the authors fail to look at the broader issues at the times of the trials, and instead hyperfocus on Salem
Following a group of girls, namely Marcy Lewis, Ann Putnam, and Margaret Walcott, Wicked Girls is set during 1692 Salem, and is the story of these girls who became to be known as the “Seers”, claiming to be able to tell who was, and who wasn’t a witch.
As a result, these girls condemned many of the women in the village to their fates, feeding into the hysteria and panic that gripped the public of the time, with the men in the village believing them without question.
This Young Adult novel is most certainly an interesting account, and since the motivations of these girls were never truly revealed, Hemphill provides this fictional account as a speculative story behind why they did it.
- Unique story with great theorizing
- A great YA Novel for those interested in the Salem witch trials
- Written in verse/prose, and although this might not be a bad thing for everyone, certainly makes it unreadable for some.
Another YA novel that is often recommended for those looking for stories set around the Salem witch trials in Massachusetts is Witch Child by Celia Rees, which tells the story of Mary Newbury, whose grandmother was hanged in 1659 on the accusations of being a witch.
Mary must hide her newfound identity, as she struggles to integrate with the Puritans in the New World, avoiding religious persecution at every turn.
The book is a great religion-meets-supernatural story that puts the perfect spin on the tragedy of the Salem witch trials.
- Remains original and captivating while incorporating historical elements
- Various settings keep the story interesting
- Perfect for teenagers and young adults
- Doesn’t break through any of the clichés that come with witch-hunt-based books
- The story is slightly too drawn out
Reading almost like a Mean Girls meets Salem witch trials novel, this is a great way for teenagers looking to get involved in the period of the Salem witch trials and is widely considered to be a must-read for any young adult looking for great stories set during the period.
Following main character Samantha Mather and her mother who have recently moved to Massachusetts from New York, and as descendants of Cotton Mather, who was one of the judges involved with the trials, they quickly become targets of a group called “The Descendants”.
On top of this, Sam also has to deal with a ghost, before discovering that she is at the center of an old curse that was a result of the trials.
- Full of twists and turns that keep the story fresh and interesting
- Great research was done to help inform the story
- The author is genuinely a relation of Cotton Mather
- Despite the twists, the ending manages to be rather predictable
- Is overall slightly unoriginal
Based on the book of the same name by Stacy Schiff, this book features incredible scratchboard illustrations and a powerful narrative to help depict the tragedy that occurred in Salem in 1692.
This nonfiction narrative provides young adult readers with a horrifying yet understandable account of what caused the tragedy in Salem, Massachusetts, allowing them to get a great understanding of the trials.
With all of the information about the dodgy officials, the values of the Puritans, and the other aspects that caused this grave disaster, it’s the perfect informative read for those interested in the trials.
- Interesting and full of factual information
- Illustrations provide a unique aspect to the book
- Perfect for young adults with an interest in the Salem witch trials
- Fails to dig into some of the deeper issues that affected the trials, including racism and sexism
- Doesn’t provide any new or uncovered information on the trials to those who are already familiar with the subject
Whether you’re looking for a fiction or nonfiction book covering the Salem witch trials, then you should have no issue thanks to the help of this list, and with the inclusion of adult, young adult, and middle schooler books, there is something for everyone to read here.
How To Choose The Best Salem Witch Trial Book
Choose One With Real People
While it can be fun to lose ourselves in fiction, some of the best stories surrounding the tragedy of the Salem witch trials are the ones that involve real people and important historical figures in their stories, which helps to provide a sense of realism.
Read The Blurb
Just like when it comes to choosing any book, the secret to discovering whether or not you might like it is to try and read the blurb.
So while it’s never a good idea to judge a book by its cover, judging it on the short description on the back is definitely a good idea, and if you like the sound of the story, then you should definitely give it a try.
Try Out A Classic
If you’re struggling with what book you should read, then you can never usually go too far wrong by starting with the established classics.
These classics are what will have inspired so many others to write about the same period of time, and are often important to understanding some of the tropes and clichés of the subject too!
If you’re scared of wasting your time on a bad book, then don’t be afraid to check out some reviews online!
There are plenty of book review websites that allow you to get a good idea of whether or not people like the book you’re intending to read without spoiling it, just remember that each reader is different, so you might fall in love with a book that other people dislike.
Do Some Research
When it comes to picking a book on the Salem witch trials, while there are many good books out there that will provide a decent explanation of why the trials are taking place, doing some research into the actual history beforehand will provide you with a much more enjoyable reading experience.
Thankfully we provided you with some great informative nonfiction books on this list!
Frequently Asked Questions
What Were The Salem Witch Trials?
The Salem Witch Trials took place between 1692 and 1693 and were a series of trials, prosecutions, and as a result, executions of people (predominantly women) who were falsely accused of witchcraft.
There were a number of causes for the trials, including social and political divide, as well as things such as sexism, all of which resulted in many of those blamed to be women.
The Salem witch trials took place in Colonial Massachusetts, and saw 200 people accused, 30 people found “guilty”, and resulted in the executions of 19 people (as well as 2 dogs).
The trials only ended when the governor’s own wife was accused of witchcraft herself.
To this day, the Salem witch trials are still considered to be one of the most horrific examples of intolerance and injustice in American history and serve as an example of what mass hysteria and moral panic can lead to when gone unchecked, and plays an important part in many in the education of American history to this day.
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