The Heretic’s Daughter by Kathleen Kent
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 descendent 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.
This was an engrossing book for me, from beginning to end. Kent did a good job of exploring the family’s dynamics and describing the communities they lived in. Telling the story from Sarah’s point of view was interesting. It was impossible for a girl to make sense of what was going on, but the way she learned more of her parents and grew to be proud of being like her mother was integral to the story. I do wish, however, that we knew a little more of what was going through the minds of Martha and her husband, Thomas.
I have to say that Thomas was a favorite character of mine. His strength and love for his wife truly touched me. It was disappointing, though, that Sarah learned his secrets from overhearing a conversation.
I knew about the Salem Witch Trials, but this book brought them to life for me. The hysteria was amazing and the conditions the prisoners lived in deplorable. The descriptions were heart-breaking. It shows what religion in the wrong hands can do.