Apr 19, 2009

[TSS] The Heretic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent

For Sarah Carrier's family life was always hard. As it was for most people living in Andover, Massachusetts in 1690. For nine year-old Sarah, her two older brothers, her baby sister and her parents, hard times seemed to follow them. They fled their home in Billerica to escape smallpox which was spreading rampantly throughout the villages killing entire families. In cover of night, they traveled to Andover to live with Sarah's maternal grandmother with the hopes of starting a new life there. What they would learn later is that their oldest boy, Andrew was already carrying the deadly virus and bringing it to Andover with them.

To say the townspeople didn't take to the Carrier family is an understatement. Martha Carrier, Sarah's mother, was an extremely strong-willed woman who wouldn't back down from anyone. She had a wicked tongue and a way with words that left people speechless and sometimes a little scared. Especially with all the talk of witches in nearby Salem Village.

With the local minister fanning the flames of witchery, the rumors grew and Martha Carrier became the main target of his fury. Sarah and her mother didn't share the closeness many mothers and daughters do and the talk of spells and witchcraft made Sarah as much of an outcast as her mother. She tried not to, but she blamed her mother for how their family was treated. Sarah, herself had questions, but was too afraid of the answers to ask them. There was also the mysterious red book her mother wrote in and kept hidden away that supposedly contained the story of her father's previous life. Perhaps the book would explain why people seemed to be afraid of her father and always avoided him.

Once the arrests for witchcraft began in and around Salem, it was only a matter of time before Martha Carrier would be arrested. Sarah and her family tried to prepare themselves for the inevitable, but nothing they imagined could have prepared them for what would soon happen to their family.

THE HERETIC'S DAUGHTER begins with a letter written in 1752 from Sarah Carrier to her own granddaughter, in the final days of her life. She wishes to explain their family's heritage so that this new young Sarah will have an understanding of where she comes from and the legacy she carries. After the letter, the first chapter starts in 1690 with Sarah as the narrator and continues as such throught the rest of the book.

When this book first came out last September, I had never read anything about the Salem Witch Trials and I was very curious about the story. In the last year, I've become very attached to historical fiction and this book is a perfect example of why I've come to enjoy this genre so much. THE HERETIC'S DAUGHTER is rich in history and the characters are so well developed and believable. Some may think the book a bit slow in the beginning, as I did at first. But in further thinking, I changed my opinion. I think it was important to establish the tone of the story and to get to know the characters, which makes the story what it is. A fascinating, sometimes unfathomable tale of a very strange time in our country's early history.

Sarah Carrier was my favorite character in the book for her strength and courage along with her yearning to be loved as all little girls want to be loved by their mothers. I believe Kathleen Kent did a fantastic job of recreating this part of history and weaving into it a story of the family she is descended from. If you like historical fiction, you will most assuredly enjoy reading this book. And after reading it, I feel it couldn't have been titled anything else. THE HERETIC'S DAUGHTER is perfect.

Author: Kathleen Kent
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Published: September2008
Pages: 352
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 (Highly Recommended)


  1. This is a wonderful review. I have this book on my list to read and if I review it I will be sure to link to your site. Have a good week.

  2. This has been on my TBR pile far too long. I heard the author on Blog Talk Radio and she is fascinating. Great review.

  3. Gavin: thanks for the compliment and for stopping by. I'll look forward to your thoughts on this book and appreciate the link!

    Kathy: I'm sorry I missed her on Blog Talk Radio. I would've enjoyed that.

  4. I've got this one on my shelf as well. Your review makes me want to move it closer to the top :)

  5. As usual you've written a great review. This one has been sitting on my shelf for so long now and I'd really love to get to it. I'm glad you liked it.

  6. Stacy: I think this is the most 'unread' book I've seen in a long time. That is to say, many people have it but haven't read it yet! I hope you get a chance to read it soon.

    Dar: Thanks! I did really like this book, although it had a dark feel to it. I think you'll like it.

  7. I definitely want to read this one now.

  8. I'm glad you enjoyed this one. I've had my eye on it for a while, and I'm sure I'll read it at some point.

    Diary of an Eccentric

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