Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Mystery Library: Witches by Stuart A. Kallen

Book:  The Mystery Library:  Witches
Author:  Stuart A. Kallen
Publisher:  Lucent Books
Year:  2000
Why I read it:  I needed to read a non-fiction book for my YA lit class and I’ve had this one to read as part of some research for something I’m writing.
My grade:  B

Throughout history men and women have utilized ancient spiritual practices dating back to the dawn of time. These rituals based in nature and on the astrological calendar have been used for healing, spiritual growth, good, and bad. "Witches" traces the practice of witchcraft from its ancient roots through the persecution of the Middle Ages to Wicca practices in modern times.

My Review

I was not very excited about reading a non-fiction book.  I’m more of a fiction sort of girl.  But I had this book checked out from my school library because I’ve been tossing around some ideas for a novel and I wanted to start reading and researching a little.  So, I figured “what the heck?” and I read it for this assignment.

This book is part of a series that we have at my school called “The Mystery Library”.  There are lots of titles in the series and they all deal with the supernatural.  Some other titles in the series include “Vampires”, “Angels”, “UFOs”, “Unicorns” and other things.

I liked the book.  It didn’t really have a lot of information that I didn’t already know, but for someone who is trying to find out something new, it would be a good starting point.  I did get some good information about specifics in the history of witch persecution and burning in Europe.  For example, I never realized that more witches were burned at the stake in Germany than all the other European countries.

The book dealt with the subject of witches in a very factual and matter-of-fact way.  It looked at the history of witches as ancient healers and midwifes, it talked a lot about the cult of the goddess among ancient peoples and talked about the conversion of witches from helpful to evil in the light of Christianity. 

There was an entire section dedicated to witch persecution of Europe and America.  It gave names, countries, dates and events in this section and I found it to be very informative.

In the last 2 chapters, it discussed modern practitioners of Wicca and some of their beliefs and where they came from.  It also looked at magic and spells and the people who practice various religions that use magic and spells.  There were mentions of shamanism, voodoo and Santeria.  Each religion and practice was presented factually.  The beliefs of the religion and what practioners do were described, not in great detail, but in an overview fashion.

I found this book to be informative and it dealt with what could be a controversial subject in an unbiased way.  The book neither condoned nor condemned the practice.  It simply stated what followers believe and do.

I give this book B. My caveat?  The pictures look very dated.  I think that in the next edition, they need to find pictures that don’t look like they came from the early eighties.  Otherwise, this is a great book for teens who need a good overview of the history of witches.

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