“The richness of the text…the intimate characterisation lends itself to a perfect “curl up by the fire” read.”

NO MAJOR SPOILERS

The Heretic’s Daughter is the story of one family’s chronicle of the Salem witch trials as recounted by their young daughter, Sarah Carrier, to her granddaughter many years after the trials ended. The story follows the Carriers from their home in Billerica, Massachusetts to the town of Andover, where they are not welcomed too warmly. When rumors of young girls from Salem Town of having strange fits and starts claiming to be from spectral forms creep into Andover, a town already on the edge of reason and prone to fear and suspicion, people begin being arrested and charged with witchcraft.

Martha Carrier, Sarah’s mother, a strong willed, independent thinker, is accused by friends and family for her outspokenness and her defiance against her accusers. Martha refuses to give in and confess to her captors, refuses to plead for her life on a lie and in doing so gives Sarah the strength to understand the importance of self and soul.

Kathleen Kent spent five years researching the material for this book and is a direct descendant of Martha Carrier. The detail in The Heretic’s Daughter is so careful and specific, the reader is drawn into the lives and customs of the early colonists in the 1690s. The themes of mass hysteria, corruption, and fear are rampant in this brilliant novel- but also the bonds of family and the love of a man for his wife and of parents for their children- and I for one always enjoy plucking it from my shelf and rereading it every fall as I watch the shadows reach across the lawn a little sooner, the nights grow a little chilly, and let the images of the pioneer life surround me until I am fully emmersed in the warmth of a settler’s hearth and the smell of straw and cider.

 

 

Reviewed by:

Dayna

Added 11th February 2016

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