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
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 (Highly Recommended)