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 descendant 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.
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, nerve-wracking, soul-wrenching gulp even though I knew what happened before I even cracked the cover. (Reviewed by Lucia Silva).
New York Times - Chelsea Cain
A powerful coming-of-age tale in which tragedy is trumped by an unsinkable faith in human nature.
Serviceable, if unexciting, historical fiction with a feminist perspective.
Amidst the painful details of jail and persecution, deep-seated suspicion and familial betrayal, it is this powerful act of love that crowns the book. Highly recommended.
School Library Journal
History is brought to life...[readers] will also appreciate the themes of family love, repression, intolerance, and persecution in this beautifully written and compelling first novel.
Starred Review. An illuminating literary debut.
Starred Review. [A] fresh, bracing and unconventional take on a much-covered episode.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Lisa Great Read I loved this book and passed it along to my daughter. The book is beautifully written and not only leaves you with a profound understanding/reminder of family and love, it provides you with a history of our past and reminds you what fear and... Read More
Rated of 5
by ReaderLady The Heretic's Daughter Ms. Kent is a very descriptive and engaging writer. Her painstaking research is obvious. However, the book is extremely sluggish in the beginning, and even later on. She gets bogged down in too many details and the story doesn't go anywhere for a... Read More
Rated of 5
by Cathy M. Enlightening book about the Salem witch trials. Kathleen Kent's novel, from the perspective of young Sarah Carrier, was moving and informative. The Salem witch trials, and that time in history, were obviously well researched by Kent and written so that the reader can see and feel what the... Read More
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, 9-year-old Betty Parris and her 11-year-old
cousin Abigail Williams, began to have mysterious fits, writhing and contorting
in pain, making strange sounds, and claiming they felt as though they were being
pricked or pinched. When several other girls in the village began to exhibit
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