Monday, September 22, 2008

Book Review: The Heretic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent

Puritan New England in the late 1600s was a hard place to live. People feared many things including Indian attacks, smallpox outbreaks, and acts of nature that could destroy livelihoods in the space of a few hours. Outsiders and people who spoke their minds were suspect. Martha Carrier was both, and the witch trials that began in nearby Salem would soon claim her as a victim as well.

The story is told through the eyes of 10 year old Sarah Carrier who has such a great character introduction: “I approached the world with suspicion, and because I was not pretty or pliable, I was not doted upon. I often challenged my betters and was therefore often chastised vigorously with a slotted spoon we children had named Iron Bessie.” Sarah, like many of the townspeople is at odds with her difficult, proud mother but comes to love and respect her during the course of the novel’s events.

More than half of the book explores the climate of the time, showing how a combination of small slights, neighborly disputes, spite and misguided religious furor could lead to something as monumentally wrong as the imprisonment and hanging of a great number of innocent people. The latter portion of the novel concerns the witch trials and the despicable conditions of 17th century prisons.

It’s well researched historical fiction with a compelling narrative and a sympathetic narrator. Plus the author has a special reason to tell the tale and do it justice – she’s a tenth generation descendant of Martha Carrier.

I read this as part of a Blog Stops Book Tour so head over there to read reviews from other bloggers.
The Heretic's Daughter is out now in hardcover.

7 comments:

bermudaonion said...

Sounds good. I love books that are told from a child's perspective.

Ladytink_534 said...

I will read this one day... maybe I can nominate it for one of my online group reads.

Kathy said...

This is what I am reading right now. Very interesting book.

Melissa said...

I have heard good things about this one and have added to my WL.

Zibilee said...

I've put this one on my list as well.

Carrie K. said...

I enjoyed this one, too.

Marie said...

Great review. Thanks for pointing me to it ! :-)