Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Book Review: The Heretic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent

ISBN: 978-0316024488
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Hardcover: 352 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
First Lines: The distance by wagon from Billerica to neighboring Andover is but nine miles. For myself it was more than a journey away from the only home I had ever known. It was the ending of a passage from the dark fog of infancy to the sharp remembrances of childhood.
One Word Review: Lovely

The Heretic's Daughter explores the events surrounding the Salem witch trials from the perspective of a young girl. Sara Carrier's family becomes the object of suspicion after a family dispute over land turns to malicious accusations and mass hysteria. Based on the family history of Kathleen Kent's ancestors, this emotionally stirring debut novel examines the dark and sinister events that occurred during this period in history.

I fell in love with this novel from the very first chapter. Kent's descriptions and language are lyrical and evocative. Take her account of Martha Carrier:

...she, with a deliberation bordering on the unseemly,
set herself apart from what a woman should be and
was as surprising as a flood or a brush fire. She had
a will, and a demeanor, as forceful as a church deacon.
The passage of time, and layer upon layer of misfortune,
had only worked to stiffen the fabric of her being...
But Martha Carrier was like a deep pond, the surface
of which was placid enough but deeply cold to the touch
and which was filled beneath the surface with sharp rocks
and treacherous choke roots.

Her vivid portrayals extend not just to the main characters, but also to the secondary ones as well. It's immediately apparent that Mrs. Kent has done immense amounts of research with this novel. The attention to detail draws the reader into the story and creates a compelling and authentic read. What I thought might be a rather intimidating recording of facts turned out to be an emotional and personal tale. I would highly recommend this book to anyone.


Luanne said...

This one is in my TBR pile. Your review makes it sound soooo good!

Anonymous said...

I'm hoping (and I'm sure it's a futile hope, given all the entries) to win this in caribousmom's contest.

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