Thursday, June 02, 2011
The Heretic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent
Author: Kathleen Kent
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company, 2008
Hardcover, 352 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Paperback Swap
First Line: The distance by wagon from Billerica to neighboring Andover is but nine miles.
Thomas and Martha Carrier are strong-willed, unyielding people, convinced that they know what is fair and what is not. They wish nothing better than to be left alone to live by their own conscience; however, this is something that goes greatly against the Puritan grain in the Massachusetts of 1690. After property line disputes and other unpleasantness with neighbors in Billerica, the Carriers and their five children move to Andover to live with Martha's mother. Things go relatively smoothly until Martha's mother dies and leaves the Carriers her house and land. With the witch trials in Salem being spoken of in every town, this is a very dangerous time to make enemies.
Author Kathleen Kent is a tenth-generation descendant of Martha Carrier, one of the first women to be accused, tried, and hanged as a witch in Salem, Massachusetts. She tells the story through the eyes and voice of Martha's young daughter, Sarah, who doesn't always understand the undercurrents of action and emotion that are swirling around her.
This is a haunting, evocative tale filled with rich detail that vividly brings scene after scene to life. But try as I might, I never warmed up to the characters, and I just couldn't get carried away by the story. I'm puzzled by this because I can't put my finger on the reason why the characters didn't fire my imagination.
Be that as it may, I still think this is a good book and well worth reading. Don't let my tepid reaction to the characters put you off. The Heretic's Daughter is well-written historical fiction, and your mileage will certainly vary.