It was a terrible time, when charity and mercy and plain good
sense were all thrown into the fire of zealotry, covering
everyone left living with the bitter ash of regret and blame.
The events of 1692 are well-trod ground even for those who slept through
history class. Grisly, sensational, and safely far away in time, the Salem witch
trials are easily one of the most popular topics for school reports. Like many
events sketched repeatedly in thumbnail fashion, the witch trials have become a
caricature, a short-hand reference for fanaticism and the darker passages of
America's colonial history. So it speaks to the strength of Kathleen Kent's
writing that each page of The Heretic's Daughter
erased more and more of
the schoolbook history I thought I knew. I could not put this book down, and
finished it all in one long,...
Beyond the Book
The Salem Witch Trials
From June through September of 1692, fourteen women and five men were hanged
in Salem Village on charges of witchcraft, and Martha Carrier was among them.
Nearly 150 men, women, and children were imprisoned, and an unknown number
perished while they languished in crowded jails for months until the trials were
brought to an end. One man was stoned to death in an effort to
force him to testify. Children were brought to testify against their parents, or
to admit to also being witches, and some were tortured. Many of the accused pled
guilty to save themselves from death, and were imprisoned and deprived of their
How it all began
In the early winter of 1692,...