Cover Image: In Defense of Witches

In Defense of Witches

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

A really wonderful historical read about witchcraft and witches, this book is a wonderful read and is extremely well-written.
Was this review helpful?
'In Defense of Witches' is a book that explores how the patriarchal witch invention has been perpetuated since the witch hunt days via women’s issues such as independence, motherhood, ageism, and health. Chollet argues that these “issues” represent the myth, symbol, stereotype, and image of the witch due to the misogyny and patriarchy that continues to control the world. The witch archetype was used as a tool of suppression in its heyday but still continues to exist in modern day societies through the topics that Chollet passionately explains. This is not a book that is meant to compare and contrast centuries old witch archetypes with the modern woman, but rather is meant to show how the witch hunt has continued to preserve and eternalize the subjugation of women. Chollet’s work will be an important contribution to the study of witches and gender going forward because she does not hold back in arguing that the past shameful history of witch persecutions continues to exist in the present day world amidst a flourishing amount of witch commodification.

Informative and thought-provoking, 'In Defense of Witches' argues that the embers from those burned at the stake continue to light fires in modern day society where women are still under threat from those afraid of her power. 

Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a free ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed are my own.
Was this review helpful?
Excellent read! Excellently researched! Was a great edition to my non-fiction November to-be-read list. I would recommend to anyone who has an interest in feminism, witchcraft, historical witch trials, and the systemic oppression of women.
Was this review helpful?
All in all, this is a great basic feminist book with witchcraft tropes as the basis. I have positive emotions but it's not a new favorite. There were a few points that I haven't heard about before and want to mention. First of all, anti-Semitism and demonization of witchcraft share words such as sabbath and synagogue. They also use common stereotypes to make them both "evil". They both have hooked noses and want to "destroy" christianity. I don't know why I've never made that connection or heard of that before. Both women and Jews have been used as scapegoats over history and the oppressors weren't creative in their stereotyping. There were a lot of quotes I really enjoyed by both the author and her sources. One is "Once curbed and domesticated, both women and nature could be reduced to their decorative function....". Another is “They exist outside the gaze of man, beyond that of most others, for their solitude is populated with works of art and with people, living and dead, dear as well as unknown, encounters with whom- whether in flesh and blood or in thought, through their oeuvres- forms the foundations to the women's sense of identity.” from Erika Flahaut. Since the author is French I've learned about women I've never heard about.    This is interesting but can be dense. The translation was well done and made the reading a pleasure.
Was this review helpful?
This was such an eye opening read! I would love to read it again at some point as I feel like there is so much to take in that I couldn't do in just one reading. This will definitely make you think differently about why women are treated the way they are.
Was this review helpful?
Today, news media and people in trouble still use phrases like "witch hunt" to describe what they find an unfair assault on the character of a person.  Writer Mona Chollet presents a highly researched look at witches as feminist icons.  The three types of women that she looks closest at are those who were most often accused of witchcraft. These include the independent women, the childless woman, and elderly women.   In Defense of Witches goes through the history of terrorism against women, censorship, and repression. This is definitely not an easy or happy read, so put that out of your mind at the start. 


Chollet's writing is impassioned and smart, exploring the myth and the factual of women living on their own terms. If you don't finish In Defense of Witches mad about misogyny, that would be surprising.  This book is long, filled with resources, and very clearly well researched. It is definitely more about women and the complications of fighting against a patriarchal system that can be damning.
Was this review helpful?
This book is INCREDIBLE. Breaking down the historic witch hunts and how those archetypes still feed into the patriarchy of today, this book is engaging, well written and hard hitting. At times I was delighted by what I read, at other times I was so mad that we live in a society where this book can, and needed to be, written. This book also highlights some ways in which the concept of witch and the previous archetypes have been taken back from the men who used them against us, which thrills me.
Was this review helpful?
This was a very interesting read. I enjoyed reading this book and will definitely recommend to friends that may find it as interesting as well
Was this review helpful?
This is a really interesting topic, in theory. I lost interest early on when the author's examples were not part of American culture...it just didn't translate well enough for an American audience though. Hopefully, it will find its niche in scholarly circles such as Women's Studies.
Was this review helpful?
This was a really interesting reading! I think many of my friends would enjoy it and even my book club! I am a French speaker so I may read the original text too.
Thank you to Netgalley for this arc ebook in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
In Defense of Witches by Mona Chollet is an excellent nonfictional account of the history and evolution of the labeling of women through time and the subsequent treatment of the associated victims. Truly fascinating! 

Through time, almost as old as history itself, women have been targeted, ostracized, blamed, and pointed at in times of uncertainty, instability, and change. Women whom have pushed the boundaries, not followed the lines, been slightly “different”, refused to follow societal constraints, or just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. Some were easier to blame then others based on many situations and personalities, but nevertheless it seems to be a similar occurrence despite the culture, the time period, or the place…and the author did a great job bringing forth all of these concepts, patterns, and presenting them in a well-researched book that was fascinating, terrifying, and yet incredibly interesting read. 

It is clear the author has done her research, and I highly recommend this read for anyone interested in social history of women, the evolution of the concept of a “witch”, or just sociology in general. 

Fascinating stuff. 

5/5 stars 

Thank you NG and St. Martin’s Press for this wonderful arc and in return I am submitting my unbiased and voluntary review and opinion.

I am posting this review to my GR and Bookbub accounts immediately and will post it to my Amazon, Instagram, and B&N accounts upon publication.
Was this review helpful?
Publication date: March 8, 2022 (in English - it has been out for a while in French and most of the European languages).

<b>I have read the French edition and am basing my review off of that read.</b>

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read and review an advanced reader's copy of this book. This in no way affects my review, all opinions are my own.

From the publisher, as I do not repeat the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it as they do it better than I do 😸.

Mona Chollet's In Defense of Witches is a “brilliant, well-documented” celebration (Le Monde) by an acclaimed French feminist of the witch as a symbol of female rebellion and independence in the face of misogyny and persecution.

Centuries after the infamous witch hunts that swept through Europe and America, witches continue to hold a unique fascination for many: as fairy tale villains, practitioners of pagan religion, as well as feminist icons. Witches are both the ultimate victim and the stubborn, elusive rebel. But who were the women who were accused and often killed for witchcraft? What types of women have centuries of terror censored, eliminated, and repressed?

Celebrated feminist writer Mona Chollet explores three types of women who were accused of witchcraft and persecuted: the independent woman since widows and celibates were particularly targeted; the childless woman, since the time of the hunts marked the end of tolerance for those who claimed to control their fertility; and the elderly woman, who has always been an object of at best, pity, and at worst, horror. Examining modern society, Chollet concludes that these women continue to be harassed and oppressed. Rather than being a brief moment in history, the persecution of witches is an example of society’s seemingly eternal misogyny, while women today are direct heirs to those who were hunted down and killed for their thoughts and actions.

With fiery prose and arguments that range from the scholarly to the cultural, In Defense of Witches seeks to unite the mythic image of the witch with modern women who seek to live their lives on their own terms.

Witches are not evil.,..nor is my beautiful baby black cat! The history of persecution is well presented and may even change your mind about these women who are in tune with nature and the world around them better than most people are.  It is decidedly feminist in nature and the fact that women are still being punished now is ... crackers.  Read this book - you might change your mind.

I will recommend this book to friends, family, patrons, book clubs, and people reading books in the park as we do … I have had some of my best conversations about books down by the Thames!

As always, I try to find a reason to not rate with stars as I simply adore emojis (outside of their incessant use by "🙏-ed Social Influencer Millennials/#BachelorNation survivors/Tik-Tok and YouTube Millionaires/snowflakes / literally-like-overusers etc. ") on Instagram and Twitter... Get a real job, people!) so let's give it 🔮🔮🔮🔮🔮
Was this review helpful?