Itching for something spooky and festive, but can’t make it to any spooky sites this year? Award-winning travel writer J. W. Ocker’s got you covered. In order to get the full experience, he moved his family to Salem, Massachusetts for the full spooky season and detailed all the mystery, quirk, and superstition of the infamous town in A Season with the Witch: the Magic and Mayehm of Halloween in Salem, Massachusetts.
Publisher’s Weekly gave it a starred review, saying “[A] lively chronicle—part travel guide, part history lesson…Ocker moves easily among the archivists, historians, and performers he interviews, and he describes the carnival atmosphere that descends upon “Witch City” with enthusiasm and vividness.”
Booklist said, “What better place to celebrate Halloween than Salem, Massachusetts? Festivities begin with a parade on October 1 and end with Halloween parties and costumed celebrations on October 31. In between, Ocker, a travel writer with an Edgar Award, and family stay the entire month, exploring Salem’s many attractions. Although the witch trials in 1692 only lasted for nine months, Salem has been branded “Witch City,” overshadowing its maritime history. Ocker samples everything: cemeteries, museums, gift shops, performances, wax museums, and more. He talks to street performers and street preachers as he tries to understand the appeals of the city. He interviews curators, haunters, costumed tour guides, a policeman, the mayor, and cemetery caretakers. Ocker devotes whole chapters to real witches, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and TV shows and movies set in Salem. His comic asides lighten the details of haunted houses, hangings, and hysteria without disrespecting the history. The result is a fresh, fun glimpse of a town that has come to grips with its sordid history and prospered. Armchair travelers will enjoy the trip.”
And Library Journal called it “an entertaining and historical guide to the varied sites of Salem, with Ocker interviewing everyone from the mayor to local archivists to men in scary costumes, covering burial sites of witch trial judges, and perhaps the most awesome Halloween street party ever described in print, with Ocker’s good humor and touch of sarcasm marking his readable style.”