In 1672 Anna Fessler is recovering from giving birth when a neighbor brings her a cake for Shrove Tuesday. Not long after eating it, she dies a painful and mysterious death. Controversy immediately is raised as the neighborhood tries to determine if Anna was poisoned by the cake as part of a witch's plot, if it was a complication from childbirth, or some other cause. Anna Schmieg the Miller's wife that made the cakes becomes the main suspect. Schmieg becomes embroiled in a case where she must prove that she did not murder her neighbor, and is not a witch. Now every aspect of her life comes under scrutiny and is magnified as proof of her being a witch.
A fascinating account of a witch trial in the seventeenth century. Robisheaux provides great detail about what happened during the trial. I found the several angles presented for Anna Schmieg's trial very interesting. There are court records, witness statements, and public opinion all brought together to provide a detailed account of what happened to Anna Schmieg. I liked learning more about the government's role in a witch trial. There were rules about confessions and torture, and it was interesting to see how it applied to an actual trial. I also liked reading about what officials did when they did not get the answers they wanted from the accused and other people involved in the case.
I thought it was an important book to read for anyone that is curious about witch panics that took place, and how they would result in the death of members of the community. In this book, not only do we learn about the witch trial, but how life in a village was in the seventeenth century. It is surprising how much influence village life had on Schmieg's trial. There is a personal and legal aspect to this case that makes it a significant book in the history of witch trials.
People interested in the history of witch trials will enjoy this book.