The Once & Future Witch Hunt: A Descendant's Reckoning from Salem to the Present

Regular price $ 24.99

by Alice Markham-Cantor

Llewellyn Publications

5/8/2024, paperback

SKU: 9780738776279


Past and present collide in this page-turner investigation into Salem's irrepressible question: How could this have happened?

In 1692, Martha Allen Carrier was hanged in the Salem witch trials as the "Queen of Hell." Three hundred years later, her nine-times-great-granddaughter, Alice Markham-Cantor, set out to discover why Martha had died. As she chased her ancestor through the archives, graveyards, and haunted places of New England, grappling with what we owe the past, Alice discovered a shocking truth: witch hunts didn't end in Salem.

Extensively researched and told through alternating fiction and non-fiction chapters, The Once & Future Witch Hunt does not treat Salem as a cautionary tale. It treats Salem as an instruction manual--not on how to perform witch hunts, but how to stop them.

With a foreword by Rebecca Traister and an afterword by Silvia Federici.


"In this fascinating and powerful look at the story of one family caught up in the Salem witch trials, Alice Markham-Cantor performs a kind of literary magic, blending fact and fiction into a form perfectly suited to the troubling subject matter and the limits of the historical record. The exact truth of what happened to her ancestor Martha Carrier will never be known, but thanks to this indelible book, readers can imagine Martha's life and, alas, her death." -- Ann Packer, author of The Children's Crusade

"Through lively characters and fast-paced storytelling, Markham-Cantor transports us directly into the world of the Salem witch trials. The Once & Future Witch Hunt clearly shows that there is nothing exceptional about the conditions in which witch hunts arise. Rather, we see how the urge to blame, scapegoat, and other is all too typically human." -- Miranda Forsyth, director of the International Network Against Accusations of Witchcraft and Associated Harmful Practices

"Alice Markham-Cantor has done a remarkable thing here. From the sparest bones of ancestor's story, she has fashioned a thoroughly engaging work of scholarship that is equal parts historical fiction, personal narrative, feminist theory, and a good old-fashioned detective yarn. In The Once & Future Witch Hunt, Markham-Cantor rescues Martha Carrier from one of the darkest corners of our nation's past. Her voice, and Markham-Cantor's too, will linger in your memory long after you've turned the final page." -- Alexandra Styron, author of Reading My Father

About the Contributors:

Alice Markham-Cantor is a writer and fact-checker from Brooklyn, New York. Her work has been published in New York Magazine, Scientific American, The Nation, and elsewhere. She serves on the working committee of the International Network Against Accusations of Witchcraft and Associated Harmful Practices (TINAAWAHP), and she spoke at the first and second Feminist Conferences on the Witch Hunts hosted by the Campaña por la Memoria de las Brujas in Spain. She is the writer and co-producer of A Witch Story, an award-winning documentary about Salem and her research.

Rebecca Traister is an American author and journalist. Traister is a writer-at-large for New York magazine and its website The Cut, and she is a contributing editor at Elle magazine. Traister is the author of New York Times bestseller Good and Mad.

Silvia Federici is a New York-based scholar, teacher, and feminist who wrote Caliban and the Witch. She is a professor emerita and teaching fellow at Hofstra University in New York State, where she was a social science professor. She also taught at the University of Port Harcourt in Nigeria.