The Heretic’s Daughter – Kathleen Kent [TSS]

Title: The Heretic’s Daughter
Author: Kathleen Kent
ISBN: 9780316024488
Pages: 352
Release Date: September 3, 2008
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5

From the dust jacket:

Martha Carrier was one of the first women to be accused, tried and hanged as a witch in Salem, Massachusetts. Like her mother, young Sarah Carrier is bright and willful, openly challenging the small, brutal world in which they live. Often at odds with one another, mother and daughter are forced to stand together against the escalating hysteria of the trials and the superstitious tyranny that led to the torture and imprisonment of more than 200 people accused of witchcraft. This is the story of Martha’s courageous defiance and ultimate death, as told by the daughter who survived.

Kathleen Kent is a tenth generation descendent of Martha Carrier. She paints a haunting portrait, not just of Puritan New England, but also of one family’s deep and abiding love in the face of fear and persecution.

Back when The Heretic’s Daughter was first released, there was a firestorm about it. It was one of those books that everyone was talking and blogging about, but for some reason, I didn’t get around to reading it. Now that I finally have, I can understand why everyone made such a big deal about this historical fiction novel – the amazingly vivid historical details combined with a fascinating time period make for a wonderful read.

Kathleen Kent really deserves praise for this novel. The details about the time period are impeccable; she knew exactly what to include to set perfect scenes that are vivid in her readers’ minds without crossing the line into tedious minutiae that can ruin a book. Kent obviously did a staggering amount of research for the novel, given the level of historical detail. The fact that she is personally connected to the subject probably increased her determination to get everything exactly right.

Martha Carrier’s story is also compelling. Told through the eyes of her daughter, Sarah, we slowly get to know this cold, hard woman and understand her. It is interesting to watch Sarah come of age and slowly comprehend what is going on around her, and what sacrifices her mother made. Their relationship is not exactly warm at the beginning of the novel; while it doesn’t turn into sheer love over the course of The Heretic’s Daughter, Sarah begins to understand the depth of the love her mother has for her, even if she hasn’t been able to show it. Kent draws her characters very well, making them three-dimensional and layered. There is also the mystery behind Sarah’s father’s past, which is a driving force in the novel.

The Salem witch trials are a fascinating, albeit disturbing, time period in American history, and Kent certainly gives them their due in The Heretic’s Daughter. This book is a must read for any fans of American history or historical fiction. This is a novel that won’t disappoint!

Comments

  1. This was such a good one 🙂

    ~Suzi
    Fashion PIranha

  2. This was such a good one 🙂

    ~Suzi
    Fashion PIranha

  3. I haven’t had a chance to read this yet, but I am looking forward to it!

  4. I haven’t had a chance to read this yet, but I am looking forward to it!

  5. I totally agree. This is a wonderful book!

  6. I totally agree. This is a wonderful book!

  7. Nice review — I’ve been wanting to read this, but other books keep getting in the way. Well-written and well-researched HF is a love of mine.

  8. Nice review — I’ve been wanting to read this, but other books keep getting in the way. Well-written and well-researched HF is a love of mine.

  9. I also read and reviewed this book. I had received an arc prior to the release and felt the book was awesome. I totally agree with your review. Thanks for writing about it. Maybe others will pick it up.

  10. I also read and reviewed this book. I had received an arc prior to the release and felt the book was awesome. I totally agree with your review. Thanks for writing about it. Maybe others will pick it up.

  11. I also enjoyed this book and I loved how the author’s ancestors were part of the book.

  12. I also enjoyed this book and I loved how the author’s ancestors were part of the book.

  13. I read this book last year and liked it a lot.

  14. I read this book last year and liked it a lot.

  15. I really liked this too and am going to suggest “The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane” for those who really liked it. “Deliverance Dane” was also written by a descendant of women executed in Salem for witchcraft but it set primarily in the present day with a graduate student who is researching a mysterious book from that period of which she found a reference in her grandmother’s house. It was great.

  16. I really liked this too and am going to suggest “The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane” for those who really liked it. “Deliverance Dane” was also written by a descendant of women executed in Salem for witchcraft but it set primarily in the present day with a graduate student who is researching a mysterious book from that period of which she found a reference in her grandmother’s house. It was great.

  17. Terrific review of this book! I also read it last year and loved it (and then got to hear Kent speak as part of an author panel at the San Jose Bookclub Expo which was wonderful).

    Thanks Jen for the recommendation of The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane – I just received a copy from the Barnes and Noble First Look Book club and am anxious to start reading it – it is good to know you liked it!

  18. Terrific review of this book! I also read it last year and loved it (and then got to hear Kent speak as part of an author panel at the San Jose Bookclub Expo which was wonderful).

    Thanks Jen for the recommendation of The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane – I just received a copy from the Barnes and Noble First Look Book club and am anxious to start reading it – it is good to know you liked it!

  19. I do like historical fiction…this one sounds good. It intrigues me that the author’s ancestors are the characters.

  20. I do like historical fiction…this one sounds good. It intrigues me that the author’s ancestors are the characters.

  21. I really liked this one too. I only read it recently as well.

  22. I really liked this one too. I only read it recently as well.

  23. I really love this one. It might be my favorite from last year.

  24. I really love this one. It might be my favorite from last year.

  25. Loved this book – I had tears in my eyes at the end!

  26. Loved this book – I had tears in my eyes at the end!

  27. This is in my TBR pile and I’m looking forward to reading it. I heard the author on Blog Talk Radio and she was fascinating.

  28. This is in my TBR pile and I’m looking forward to reading it. I heard the author on Blog Talk Radio and she was fascinating.

  29. I loved this one, too. I have a copy of The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, but haven’t gotten around to it yet.

  30. I loved this one, too. I have a copy of The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, but haven’t gotten around to it yet.

  31. Nice review — this is one of the best novels I’ve ever read. I can’t say enough good things about it.

  32. Nice review — this is one of the best novels I’ve ever read. I can’t say enough good things about it.

  33. Over here from LOST Books Challenge, and saw this review. I read this book around Thanksgiving and LOVED it! The characters were so real and vivid, and I found this to be one of those books where you feel like what is going on IS your life.

  34. Over here from LOST Books Challenge, and saw this review. I read this book around Thanksgiving and LOVED it! The characters were so real and vivid, and I found this to be one of those books where you feel like what is going on IS your life.

  35. This book sounds great! I’ve always been interested in the Salem witch trials. I read that the “bewitching” was caused by ergot poisoning… the result of a bad rye season.

  36. This book sounds great! I’ve always been interested in the Salem witch trials. I read that the “bewitching” was caused by ergot poisoning… the result of a bad rye season.

  37. Thanks for the recommendation. I’ve been meaning to read this one, too. Maybe soon…

    –Anna
    Diary of an Eccentric

  38. Thanks for the recommendation. I’ve been meaning to read this one, too. Maybe soon…

    –Anna
    Diary of an Eccentric

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