Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Pg. 69: Erika Mailman's "The Witch's Trinity"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: Erika Mailman's The Witch's Trinity.

About the book, from the author's website:
The year is 1507, and a friar has arrived in Tierkenddorff, a remote German village nestled deeply in the woods. The village has been suffering a famine, and the villagers are desperately hungry. The friar’s arrival is a miracle, and when he claims he can restore the town to prosperity, the men and women who have gathered to hear him rejoice. The friar has a book called the Malleus Maleficarum -- "The Witch’s Hammer." It is a guide to gaining confessions of witchcraft. The friar promises he will identify the guilty woman who has brought God’s anger upon the town, burn her, and bounty will be restored. Tierkenddorff is filled with hope; neighbors wonder aloud who has cursed them and how quickly can she be found? They begin sharing secrets with the friar.

Güde Müller, an elderly woman, has stark and frightening visions-recently she has seen things that defy explanation. None in the village know this, and Güde herself worries that perhaps her mind has begun to wander -- certainly she has outlived all but one of her peers in Tierkenddorff. Yet of one thing she is absolutely certain: she has become an object of scorn and a burden to her son’s wife. In these desperate times her daughter-in-law would prefer one less hungry mouth at the family table. As the friar turns his eye on each member of the tiny community, Güde dreads what her daughter-in-law might say to win his favor.

Then one terrible night Güde follows an unearthly voice and the scent of charred meat into the snow-filled woods. Come morning, she no longer knows if the horror she witnessed was real or imagined. She only knows that if the friar hears of it, she may be damned in this life as well as the next.

Among the early praise for the novel:

“A well-constructed novel and a gripping, well-told story of faith and truth.”
–Khaled Hosseini, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Kite Runner

“A linguistic enchantress has arrived among us, gifted in transmogrifying the mundanities of historical fiction into tableaux of indelible terror and abiding beauty.”
–James Morrow, author of The Last Witchfinder

“Beautifully written, nary a word out of place, and with a few moments that throw you beyond – the way good books do.”
San Francisco Chronicle

"[A] well-written, gripping and chilling account of a witch scare in early modern Europe."
Jeremy Dibbell

"No one escapes suspicion when a famine afflicts a medieval German village. Eager to identify a scapegoat, the starving residents of Tierkindorf fall under the spell of an itinerant friar claiming to be able to extract confessions of witchcraft from transgressors. When elderly Gude Muller begins to experience blackouts and confusing visions, her daughter-in-law Irmeltrude seizes the opportunity to rid herself of the burden of her husband's mother. In an ironic twist, the villagers turn not only on Gude but on Irmeltrude as well. In searingly simple prose, Mailman probes the human psyche, peeling back the layers of the basest human instincts to expose the dangerous frailties of the human soul."

“Evocative and engrossing … a frightening tale of both the weakness and strength of the human soul. I was gripped immediately by the story; it reminded me of Year of Wonders and I read it in nearly one sitting.”
—Robert Alexander, national bestselling author of The Kitchen Boy and Rasputin's Daughter

“Powerful and thought-provoking, The Witch’s Trinity questions the nature of truth while bringing to vivid life the power men’s fear has over women’s lives. Haunting and unforgettable.”
—India Edghill, author of Wisdom’s Daughter

“Surprising and engrossing, The Witch’s Trinity draws you in and then keeps you gripped till the very last page.
–Martin Davies, The Conjurer’s Bird

Read an excerpt from The Witch's Trinity and learn more about the book and author at Erika Mailman's website and her blog.

The Page 69 Test: The Witch's Trinity.

--Marshal Zeringue