Welcome to The Marauders a monthly feature hosted by three bookish friends: Scales aka Elizabeth from BookYABBER, Pooka aka Marci at The Plot Bunny and Embers aka Nicole from Nicole’s Novel Reads. We seek to share with you, our unique outings, bookish exploits, and favorite haunts. Together we aspire to always live by our motto: “Mischief Managed”.
This month’s trip took us to the seaside town of Salem, Massachusetts. Salem is infamously known for the 1692 witch trials where several of its locals were accused and executed for allegedly practicing witchcraft (you can read more about it here ). The witch hysteria was a really dark and tragic time in Salem’s history, but the town has done a complete 180 and almost everywhere you look now you will find it has embraced its “witchy” history. Modern Salem now honors the memory of the innocent men and women that suffered horrible tortures and death at the hands of the fanatical Puritans. We decided to visit Salem because Elizabeth had never really experienced the city since she moved to Massachusetts. Nicole and I are basically locals so we knew that there would be lots of interesting things to look at and explore. We have also been meaning to visit Wicked Books bookstore ever since we attended the Harlequin Halloween Scream book event this past October that they hosted at The Hawthorne Hotel.
Our visit started with a hearty breakfast at Red’s Sandwich shop. From the outside, you wouldn’t think this place was really very large, but it actually has a whole other dining room in the back area towards the bathrooms. The food was filling, and the prices were very reasonable. All the locals eat here, so you know it must be good.
After eating our fill we decided to just walk around the “touristy” part of Salem, and look around some shops. Since Salem is known for their “witches” you will find lots of places that will feel similar to going shopping for your first day at Hogwarts. One of the most “authentic” places you could go to for your potions supplies and dragon’s blood ink is The Coven’s Cottage. Here you will find a vast array of dried herbs, flowers, parchment, candles and various other items. I bet Professor Snape would come here to stock up his potions supply closet.
Along this same shopping area, you will find Salem’s independent bookstore Wicked Good Books. This place used to be a completely different bookstore, with books piled high and stacked on top of each other. It was almost impossible to move around in it or to find anything, but it did have lots of “character”. Wicked Good Books still has character but now with better lighting and a very neat and organized setup. Their selection isn’t very large but they do have both new and used titles. The staff is friendly, helpful and they are known to host book signings and other events often.
After leaving Wicked Good Books (sadly no books bought this time) walked further down and past Salem’s Peabody Essex Museum. We were about to come upon some more shops. The first was a card, gifts and more “specialized” bookstore called The Marble Faun Books and Gifts store. This place had a very nice and varied selection of Jane Austen, Edgar Allen Poe, Alice in Wonderland items as well as teas, journals, quills, fountain pens and Victorian and Steampunk items (even a few corsets). They had a large selection of cards too. The top one in the picture below for example I could have sworn said DEMENTOR and not DELINEATOR.
After the Marble Faun, we visited two of the more Harry Potter inspired stores in Salem. The first of these shops was Remember Salem. Stock full of Harry Potter merchandise this place is a fan’s dream. They even had Butter Beer! After making a few purchases we headed next door to Wynott’s Wands. Here we felt like we had just walked into Ollivander’s Wands shop. Everywhere we looked had something interesting and unique to see. The wands were really beautifully made and the shop also sold journals and candles too (I purchased a really adorable kitty paperweight- it’s on the bottom left of the picture below). The shop owner was quite an eccentric character and definitely knew her Harry Potter cannon.
We started feeling peckish and thirsty after all our shopping so we started to wander a little further down the road towards Jolie Tea Shop but first, we stopped to explore the outdoor exhibit called Stickwork. It looks like each house was built by human-bird hybrids. Everything was completely made with sticks the artist found. These were pretty large structures and we took several pictures and walked around and through them. I bet they look fairly creepy at night with one lone little light shining through each window.
Chilly and definitely hungry by this point we proceeded to walk over to Jolie Tea Shop. This cute little shop is located just across from the Hawthorne Hotel and is absolutely adorable and reminded me of Madam Paddifoot’s tea shop in Harry Potter. They now offer something called a Petit Tea (a scone, a madeleine and a French Macaroon of your choice) along with a pot of tea. They also sell a few other pastries, and they do offer High Tea if you book ahead. Their tea selection is quite large, and I decided on a Chocolate Raspberry infusion that was absolutely delicious. We each ordered a version of the Petit Tea (Elizabeth got an orange Macaroon, I got a chocolate one, and Nicole chose an earl grey flavor). Everything was absolutely lovely and even the restroom was cool with bunny speckled wallpaper.We definitely plan to return again to in the near future.
Feeling a bit adventurous after our yummy treats we decided to head over to a slightly more “dark arts” looking shop called Five Hands. This shop would definitely be found along Knockturn Alley (sorry I can’t help it with the Harry Potter references), right along the lines of Borgin and Burkes. We didn’t stay very long, but we did get an eyeful of everything from a tiny baby casket, a guillotine, vintage doll heads, antique embalming kit, surgical tools and jars with strange substances and items inside them . Both Elizabeth and I wished that not everything had been under glass/lock and key, but that was probably from keeping curious people like us from getting into trouble with things we should not be messing with.
Our next stop was The Burying Point and The Salem Witch Trail Memorial (of course these locations are supposedly haunted). The memorial consists of 20 granite benches cantilevered from a low stone wall surrounding an area next to the Old Burying Point. The benches are inscribed with the names of the 14 women and 6 men who were accused of being witches and the means and date of their execution. The Burying Point is the final resting place for a Mayflower Pilgrim, Justice John Hawthorne (an ancestor of Nathaniel Hawthorne) who was one of the witchcraft court judges and more than 50 slaves are also buried in the southwest corner of Salen’s oldest cemetery in unmarked graves (no wonder the place is haunted).
We were starting to get a little tired and a bit cold so we decided to start heading back to where we had parked our car, but first we warmed up by visiting two comic book shops. The largest of these was Harrison’s Comics. This place is quite large and has a huge collection of comics, DVDs, posters, toys and all things Pop Culture. I was really tempted to purchase what looked like a vintage Snow White movie poster. There was plenty of other pretties to peak my interest too, especially they StarWars and Doctor Who sections. After spending a little time looking over all the shiny comics we decided it was time to head home. I had a really fun and unintentionally Harry Potter inspired day visiting the town of Salem and hanging out with my fellow Marauders. There is still lots of places there to explore that we didn’t get to this time around, but we’ll just have to make a return again soon.
Have you ever been to Salem? Did any of the shops or places we visited spark your interest? Let us know what you thought of our trip in the comments below. Let’s Chat!