Cover Image: In Defense of Witches

In Defense of Witches

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for granting me an advanced reader's copy.

If you are looking for a book about feminism.. this is that book. If you are looking for a book about the history of witches, you may want to pass. 

There are some historical witchy happenings at the beginning and end of the book, yes. However, the majority of the book is about women's rights, the struggles women have had to endure throughout the years, and how some of that plays into witches. 

It was not what I was expecting by any means, but that doesn't mean I didn't enjoy it. 
Every single topic felt relevant to me as a woman, and I am happy to have read it. The title may have been misleading, but it is definitely a must read for all women.
Was this review helpful?
First, thank you so much for the chance to read this book! It brought me back to college when I studied classics and several of my classes focused on how women were portrayed as witches - we even read passages from the Malleus Maleficarum!

Overall, I did enjoy this book and learned a bit - but it was long and repetitive. I don't know if that was partially due to the translation, but I felt like it could have used a bit more editing to get to the point, with details, but without rambling a bit. 

However, I did enjoy this and appreciate the chance to have read it!
Was this review helpful?
I thought this book was going to be a little different than it was. I was expecting the whole book to be about witch hunts in Europe and America. I was expecting lots of info about the Salem Witch Trial.s You did get some info but not as much as I thought.

However, I am glad I read this book. I think it was amazingly researched. The author did such a good job. With everything going on in America right now this book is so relevant. It blows my mind how woman have been treated. A woman wants to leave her man....he could turn her in as a witch? It's insane. I know if I was alive back then I would have been one of those women accused of witchcraft. 

As a woman without any kids parts of this book hit different. It's nice to know I'm not alone. It is also true I've been asked when I'm having kids. I think this is a type of book you can read more than once and learn/pick up on something you didn't the first time.

Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for the copy of the book! My opinions are my own.
Was this review helpful?
If you have ever been interested in the witch trials, persecution of women, the stereotypes of women in their own power or connected to nature...read this book. There is so much more to it than that, but to unravel all that is spoken in these pages is difficult. It is hard to read knowing that there has been so much unnecessary hate and violence. There are so many emotions and thoughts to process after reading it. Really makes you pause are rethink things. It is a much needed book in these times. I am very grateful to have read it. Highly recommend.
Was this review helpful?
who were the women who were accused and often killed for witchcraft? What types of women have centuries of terror censored, eliminated, and repressed? 
This book was simply fantastic. The author dives deep into the kind of women that were accused of witchcraft. And spoiler alert, none of them were really witches. This should be mandatory reading for everyone, especially in today's society
Was this review helpful?
Really interesting book when it focuses on the history of witches, witchhunts, historical oppression of independent women, and the use of witches as a feminist metaphor.  The book becomes a bit more mundane in the last third when it covers important issues like marriage, the medical establishment, looks, etc. but from a more straightforward non-witch focused point of view.  Also quite interesting to see a French point of view on feminist theory and issues.
Was this review helpful?
A non-fiction book celebrating the witch as a symbol of female rebellion. I wanted to love this one SO MUCH but it didn’t do anything for me. It kind of felt like there weren’t any new ideas in here - just making some links that we already knew. Thank you Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press for my copy!
Was this review helpful?
In the Defense of Witches is a modern look at the of women throughout history up to modern day. It gives many examples of the way women were tread upon as well as the weight put on their aging.

This was an interesting read filled with tibits of history that I was unaware of while looking at the effects this had on women of that day and today. The author puts together many arguments on how these critiqued areas of a women's life and her personality can be linked back into what led to many women being tried and ultimately put to death as witches. Not as many were found dancing naked in the moonlight as you might expect; some of these were simply women who decided to think for themselves rather than taking a man's word as gospel.

I recommend this to anyone looking into the history of witchcraft and the wrongly persecuted women to better understand what they experienced at the hands of men who couldn't control them. Age range of 14+ as there is some sexual topics not sutable for younger readers.

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
DNF. Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC of this book. I really love reading about witches, but this was more about feminism. Which I usually like too, but this was way too heteronormative & I gave up about halfway through.
Was this review helpful?
This book really was as a lot! All about women, mother, daughters and sexism. If you are interested in stereotypes or how current or hundreds of years ago witch hunts went and why, this is a great book for you..
Was this review helpful?
An interesting history of witches throughout history. The author gives us an in-depth look at how the fear and persecution of women as witches occurred, and what were the real reasons behind that persecution. I found that part of the book fascinating and extremely informative.

The rest of the book, while interesting and well supported, struck me as redundant to the level of boredom. I understood what the author was saying and agreed with a lot of what she said, but I wanted her to move on from the repetitive narrative. 

Therefore, while I did enjoy the book, I also lost interest at many points. If you are interested in the history of why women were called witches and persecuted, this in the most researched and interesting book I have read. 

When the author diverts to defending a woman’s right to make her own decisions, especially her decision to remain childless, I found too intense and prolonged, although filled with excellent rationale. It’s a good book, but overlong.
Was this review helpful?
Interesting book with an absolutely captivating title. I felt as if the overall book meandered slightly from my expectations, however certain areas were very interesting and I was able to enjoy the book overall.
Was this review helpful?
This is an important book. Violence and hatred against women has been perpetuated throughout time and continues to be a huge problem globally. If we are going to do something about this, we need to be well informed on the tropes used against us. This book makes me feel better informed to take on the fight of gender equality and female empowerment. It gave me all of the feelings- anger, sadness, inspiration. I highly recommend this book.
Was this review helpful?
The introduction was so good, and the rest of the book was not what I expected based on the title. A great exercise in feminist thought, even if the author's feminism doesn't align perfectly with my own, but more like the author's thoughts on feminism with some witch history dripped in here and there versus the legacy of the witch hunts and why women are still on trial.

Thanks to Netgalley for the free copy in exchange for an honest review (less)
Was this review helpful?
Oh my word, this book made me so angry and sad. 

The premise of In Defence of Witches is that women are still suffering the same prejudices that occurred during the witch hunts. Independence, check. Choosing to remain childless, check. Ageing, check. 

Mona Chollet, a French feminist writer, does a great job of gathering supporting research and articles, as well as expressing her own theories, to support her claims. To read of the experiences of women who are so severely judged on every aspect of their life is devastating. We hear from women whom the medical system has failed, women whose husbands left them for younger women, and mothers who felt peer-pressured into having children, and are now completely miserable. 

One thing I really loved about this book, as that it shared details of other feminist texts; I will certainly be checking out Sophie Fontanel’s work.

Chollet’s style, translated from French to English by Sophie R. Lewis, is incredibly engaging. I didn’t find her style didactic, but as a feminist, she was preaching to the choir. This is an incredibly valuable read for everyone, but unfortunately shows us that we still have a heck of a long way to go to achieve true equality.
Was this review helpful?
It is easy to see why and how the symbol of the witch is embraced and celebrated by the modern female, for "the witch embodies woman free of all domination, all limitation; she is an ideal to aim for; she shows us the way." 

Recently, I have found myself turning up my nose at a lot of current witch/witchcraft "trends." Author Mona Chollet helped me figure out why this adoption by mainstream society bothered me so much. It is because "nowadays, witches have become a neo-liberal girlboss-style icon. That is to say, capitalism has gotten ahold of her; and, like so many things capitalism touches, she is in danger of dissociating from her radical roots." She elaborated on these trends, and absolutely blew my mind when she described its commercial cycle "whether a spiritual and/or a political practice, witchcraft is also an aesthetic, a fashion . . . and a lucrative money-spinner. It has its hashtags on Instagram and its virtual aisles on Etsy, its influencers and its indie entrepreneurs, selling their spells, candles, grimoires, superfoods, essential oils and crystals online. Witchcraft is a fashion inspiration; the big brands are adopting and adapting it. And there’s nothing surprising in this: after all, capitalism is always engaged in selling back to us in product form all that it has first destroyed." 🤯(brb, gonna stare at the wall and ponder this for awhile.)

I've studied how paganism's eco-conscious and spiritual aspects align with most modern witchcraft practices. I've also extensively studied how patriarchal laws and practices contributed to female oppression in the guise of "witchhunts." While I love reading books and watching shows and movies about fun women with magical powers, I'm also constantly craving the deeper analysis and theory provided by Chollet. Hollywood witches are fun, but read this if you want a deeper understanding of the witch as a symbol.
Was this review helpful?
Mona Chollet's "In Defense of Witches" corrects the historical record, showing the witch hunts were clearly about silencing and eliminating women (Sidebar: to me this was so obvious I was shocked historians debated it.), while also showing the ways we continue to grapple with the legacy of the witch hunts today.

I enjoyed Chollet's book and think others interested in feminism will too. It can get a bit wonky at times, but's overwhelmingly an accessible text.
Was this review helpful?
I'm not entirely sure how to rate this because I was really interested in the topic, but the delivery didn't fully work for me and I was expecting a bit more about the history of witches and witch hunts. The book starts with the history of witch hunts and moves on to focus on the modern issues of bodily autonomy, (expected) motherhood, age, and healthcare, and the ways these all affect women. I did find that most of the writing only applied to afab women, and didn't include discussion on trans women. A lot of the information (at least the specifics) included in this book was new to me, which is not always the case in feminist nonfiction, so I would definitely recommend it to people looking to read further after some of the introductory/popular collections!
Was this review helpful?
This book was perhaps more about feminism and less about witches than the description led me to believe, but very interesting and fun to read.

I mention this every time I review nonfiction, but I really don’t read a lot of nonfiction. This one grabbed my attention with that awesome cover and title—I love reading about witches (fictional or no). While Chollet does keep connecting both historical and modern-day witches to the issues she addresses in In Defense of Witches, the book is mainly an exploration of feminist issues.

The introduction has most of the history of witch persecutions found in the book, explaining how certain women—usually childless, elderly, or independent ones—were targeted historically. Chollet reminds the reader of what can easily be forgotten with the casual, sometimes lighthearted treatment the witch hunts receive: countless innocent women were tortured and killed for no reason but subjugation. In the following chapters, Chollet discusses how societies are still persecuting women for choosing to be independent, choosing not to be mothers, or just aging naturally. In Defense of Witches is smart, humorous, and, like so many feminist works, equal parts inspiring and infuriating. It touches on many different topics while weaving witches into the narrative. I really appreciated getting both French and American perspectives on women’s issues (and witchiness).

The book is well-written and researched, and it’s translated from French beautifully. If you’re looking for an in-depth history of witches or witch trials, this is not the book for you, but if you’d like a general overview of feminist thought, check it out. Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for my copy in exchange for this honest review.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Was this review helpful?
Mona Chollet successfully balances evidence from historical and contemporary society to reach readers. She compiles compelling facts about witches, womanhood, and the ways that women are oppressed because of the intersection of the two. Personally, I've never given much thought to the witch hunt's impact on women's societal and domestic roles. However, Chollet's novel reveals the subtle, or perhaps overt, connections between the witch hunt and the modern war on women. I could read Chollet's research every day.
Was this review helpful?