Book of the Week: The Last Witch of Lagenburg

By Holly Tucker

We're certainly on a Witch Kick imagine my delight when I came across this new title by Thomas Robisheaux, a professor at Duke.

The Last Witch of Lagenburg: Murder in a German Village hit the stores last week and has already met with rave reviews.

Kathleen Kent, author of The Heretic's Daughter and recent guest here at Wonders & Marvels, offers up this glowing assessment:

“A fascinating study of an accused witch, combining detailed historical research with the timeless and tragic story of an outspoken woman brought to a horrific end through superstitious dread. Professor Robisheaux brings the pacing and emotional pitch of a novel to an impressive recounting of trial documentation.”

Booklist gave it thumbs up (or should that be brooms up?) with praise that would make any historian blush:

"By 1672, Count Heinrich Friedrich of Langenburg had restored order and prosperity to his southwest German domain, which had been ravaged by the Thirty Years’ War. But a threat arose when a healthy young mother died suddenly, and suspicions fell on Anna Schmieg, a miller’s wife. Capitalizing on the meticulous record of Schmieg’s case, historian Robisheaux not only re-creates who Anna Schmieg was but also explores the confluence of social, legal, and religious streams that put her life in jeopardy. In literary terms, Robisheaux writes a courtroom drama that will hook readers and secure their attention until the last page....With an incisive ability to view matters through the participants’ eyes, Robisheaux vividly brings this historical incident to life."

Take one historian, mix up a good tale from the 17th century, throw in a witch, a little murder, a court case, and a writerly spell or two...and you have our Book of the Week pick.

Image: "The Stone Operation, or the Witch of Malleghem"
After Pieter Bruegel the Elder (circa 1525-1569) by Pieter van der Heyden (circa 1530 - after 1569). Courtesy of Christie's.

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