- Fizzy Thoughts: The Heretic's Daughter

The Heretic's Daughter

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


The Heretic’s Daughter
Kathleen Kent
September 2008
352 pages

I occasionally hop on my soapbox and rave about historical fiction, because I think it’s the greatest thing for the study of history since DWMs (dead white males) lost their dominion over the subject. Whenever someone mentions Lisa See I always blather on about how I learn so much more from her books than any old stuffy historical text. I feel the same way about C.W. Gortner’s The Last Queen. And now, I can add Kathleen Kent to my list of authors that do an exceptional job of evoking the mood and feel of a time period.

The Heretic’s Daughter is the story of the Carrier family, and their life in Andover, Massachusetts in the late 1600’s, the period of the infamous Salem Witch Trials. Sarah Carrier is our young narrator, and her world is bleak and hard. Her family struggles to work the land, survive smallpox, and deal with judgmental neighbors and avaricious family members. Added to this is the constant scrutiny by the community, particularly the religious leaders. Everyone is expected to attend Sunday meeting, and failure to attend is not looked favorably upon. Because the Carrier family is considered troublesome (they are accused of bringing smallpox to Andover), and because a brother-in-law believes they have usurped family land that belongs to him, and because a former servant carries a grudge, and because Sarah's mother, Martha, doesn't always hold her tongue, the family is accused of witchcraft.

While this book is a fictional account of the Carrier family, there is no escaping the fact that Martha Carrier was in fact found guilty of being a witch. She was hung on August 19, 1692. Martha is to be admired for speaking out against her accusers, for which Cotton Mather labeled her a “rampant hag.” I’ll refrain from hopping on my other soapbox and talking about men who feel threatened by strong women.

While I loved the book, it was not easy to read. In fact, I stopped reading it for about a week, as the world of the Puritans was just too grim. However, after I saw the author speak at the Book Group Expo, I picked the book back up and finished it in what seemed like no time.

Kathleen Kent is currently working on her second novel, which will tell the story of Thomas Carrier, Sarah’s father…who was supposedly the executioner of Charles I of England.

To read more about The Heretic’s Daughter, as well as the author and her connection to Martha Carrier, check out this website.

12 comment(s):

Susan B. Evans said...

I have been thinking about buying this one beand new - something almost unheard of for me, but it looks so good! I enjoy well written historical fiction.

I tried to read an autobiography of Anne Bradstreet earlier this year. She was the first notable American poet and the first woman to be published in Colonial America. She came to America as part of the Winthrop Fleet of Puritans in 1630. Her life was so bleak that I hap to put the book down - permanantly. I hate to do that, but I just couldn't finish it.

That period in hisotry is so fascinating, but it is hard to find good books to read on the subject.

bermudaonion said...

I listened to Kathleen Kent on Blog Talk Radio and thought she was fascinating. I can't wait to read this book.

Ti said...

Yep. This one is on my list too and maybe I will get to it if I ever get to sit down and actually do some READING.

raych said...

Oh historical fiction, I would make out with you if you asked me to.

I just finished reading 'The Boleyln Inheritance' by Philippa Gregory, and EVEN THOUGH it was like 600 pages long, I was so sad to see it end. It's easy, delicious reading.

Veens said...

I almost lost your blog :D
and i found it again! Hiya Softdrink - wassup ?!
:)

Now i would love to pick up something like this - :-)
cool review!

and i never knew Charles I of England was killed by her father!
:)

dawn said...

I'm a huge fan of historical fiction (that is, I'm not HUGE, but I enjoy reading historical ficiton). *The Heretic's Daughter* is waiting on my bookshelf for me.

I always like to see/hear authors talk and read from their works.

Dar said...

I didn't completely read this because I fully intend to read this book soon. All that matters is you really liked it.

ourpartyof4 said...

Ohh, sounds great! I need to read The Last Queen too.I just finished a book about Catherine of Aragon so it will be interesting to read about Juana.

bkclubcare said...

I'm needing to get back to some historical fiction. I just need to get back to reading (ie stop blogging...) THanks! great review.

Yan said...

It's on my nightstand taunting me XD

Ladytink_534 said...

I'm looking forward to reading this one before too much longer.

J.S. Peyton said...

I keep seeing this around and I've been intrigued by it, but had no intention to read it. You've made this sound pretty good, though! Yep, I think this is going on my TBR list.

In a real sense, people who have read good literature have lived more than people who cannot or will not read. It is not true that we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish. ~S.I. Hayakawa

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.
~St. Augustine

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.
~Mark Twain

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