Review: Witchcraft by Clary Croft
Title: Witchcraft: Tales, Beliefs, and Superstitions from the Maritimes
Author: Croft, Clary
Length: 169 pages
Genre: Non-Fiction, History
Publisher / Year: Nimbus Publishing / 2010
Source: Purchased at Word on the Street Halifax in 2010.
Why I Read It: It sounded interesting, and fun to learn more about beliefs and superstitions from around where I grew up.
Date Read: 12/07/12
This was a short and moderately interesting book that condenses some of the folklore that has been gathered from the Maritimes (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island – three provinces in Eastern Canada). Rather than doing extensive research himself on people’s current beliefs and superstitions, Croft gathers much of what has been noted down in the past by researchers who came before him. This book is a collection the folklore and stories gathered by many.
Croft is a native of Nova Scotia, and much of what he shares comes from that province. Being from Prince Edward Island myself I naturally watched for references to beliefs from there. Being a smaller area with a smaller population of course it didn’t make up a very large part of the book. Instead the book covers more of Nova Scotia especially, with some information as well from New Brunswick.
With chapter headings such as ‘Learning the Black Arts’, ‘Protection Against Witches’, and ‘Spells and Counter Spells Involving Animals’ there was a wide variety of topics discussed and stories told. Many of them were similar, but some were new. Croft highlights the various cultures that made up the population in the Maritimes and the differing ways in which witchcraft was perceived and witches were treated.
Although I found the book a bit dry to read, it may have been that the information just didn’t interest me as much as I expected it would. Although there were numerous stories included, the narrative style was missing. Croft states that he purposely put the stories in as they appeared originally, not adding anything to them. I appreciate this and think it is important, but also think that the narrative of the entire book overall could have been made a bit more interesting.
Recommended to those specifically interested in Maritime history or in the study of witchcraft through history.