The Heretic’s Daughter – Book Review and Blog Tour Stop

To read the rules for my giveaway of this book, click here.

The Heretic’s Daughter by Kathleen Kent

Release date: Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Reviewed for Blog Stop Book Tours

Sarah Carrier is a young girl from an unliked family living in Massachusetts at the end of th 17th century. Her father is too tall, too quiet, and greatly feared by other men – rumors about him abound. Sarah’s mother, though, Martha Carrier, she is the one who provokes the most discomfort in the neighbors. Martha is an incredibly strong, often abrasive woman. She is sure of her own opinion and nothing will keep her from speaking her mind. This incredibly strong will is not looked upon kindly by the Puritan society in which they live.

Like their neighbors, Sarah is also frequently at odds with her mother. She feels that Martha is distant, cold, and bossy. She wishes for a mother more like her aunt Mary, more like society’s expectation of a wife and mother.

That is, of course, until the world in which they live turns upside down. A few young girls in Salem begin denouncing people for witchcraft, and the accusations spread like the plague. Martha has infuriated far too many of the people around her by standing up for her own beliefs to be left alone for long. As the madness builds, Sarah realizes that her mother’s strength and defiance is the only thing that stands between her and Gallows Hill.

I thought this book was remarkably well done, particularly considering that this is Kent’s first novel. Everything was clearly meticulously researched and carried all the more emotional strength because Kent is herself a tenth-generation descendant of Martha Carrier. I have long been interested in what happened at the Salem Witch Trials, and this book offered a fantastic and very personal perspective. I would definitely recommend this book to both those interested in historical fiction and those interested in studying how it is that people can so fervently persecute those around them.

Buy this book on Amazon.

42 comments to The Heretic’s Daughter – Book Review and Blog Tour Stop

  • Thanks for a great review. I am hoping to read this soon. Over the summer I read I, Tituba, The Black Witch of Salem and enjoyed it. It’s so fascinating to get to hear alternate points of view on historical events.

  • I’m really looking forward to this one – it sounds fascinating. Thanks for the review!

  • Have you read The Witch’s Trinity by Erika Mailman? It’s about witch trials, but it’s set in Germany. It’s an extremely powerful read that calls into question the treatment of the elderly. Here>/a> is my review. I think it would be a nice complement to The Heretic’s Daughter.

  • Shana

    I just finished this book over the weekend and love it. Enjoyed reading your review, and am looking forward to the remainder of the tour! It’s always fun to read everyone’s perspectives.

  • Great review! I really want to read this book. I too have been interested in the Salem witch trials so this is a must read for me.

  • I’m in the middle of this one, and it’s really lovely. I particularly like Kent’s writing style – she’s so descriptive without being overly wordy.

  • Can’t wait to read this book! I’ve always been interested in the witch trials.

  • I would love to win this book!

    In my family, my great-great-great grandfather, who owned a Boston mercantile, received a loose diamond as payment for services right after the Civil War. This gem was passed throughout my family for many years until finally my father received it and gave it to my mother and was given to my oldest daughter. I would love to research all the ancestors in my family who once owned or wore the diamond because I’m told it was put in many different settings for both men and women throughout the years. It would make an interesting story to chronicle the lives of each one to see if they were ever tempted to sell it or if it was almost lost and so on.

    Great review, BTW.

    Have a great week.

  • I’ve actually been intently researching my family history for more than a year now. I’ve got a ways to go. I think it would be interesting to research the women on both sides of my family who lived in Sweden and Denmark. I believe a couple people, one from each side, had the same name! I guess I’m drawn to this era of the history since I read Kristin Lavransdatter earlier this year.

  • My mother is big into genealogy and has done charts for both my parents and now my husband’s side of the family. I have a relative that was hired to impersonate the son of a wealthy family during the Civil War; that could be interesting to research more and may make a great tale one day.

    This was a great review!

  • Tossing in my name for the book giveaway. I’m really interested in this book, love reading about the time period.

    I have an ancestor who was an interpreter for some Native American tribes in the 17th century. There have already been several books written about him. He was apparently one of the “good guys” in terms of Indian-European relations.

    Thanks Jen, for your generous giveaways! I’ll also post on my blog later, will return with the link.

  • fyrefly

    I’ve heard so many good things about this book, I’m anxious for a chance to read it!

    I actually know very, very little about my family’s history… I’ve got an aunt who is heavy into genealogy but I only know snippets about what she’s found out – I’m apparently distantly related to John Adams. Personally, I think my first area of research would be going to the Czech Republic – there’s a mountain there with my last name, so I’d very much like to know the story of that.

  • I’d love to win this one!

    I’m the unofficial family historian in my family and I love researching my ancestors. The one couple I’d love to know more about is my mother’s grandparents. They emmigrated from Italy in the late 1800s. Family stories say that he tricked her into coming to America by saying that it would just be for a short trip, like a honeymoon. She absolutely did not want to go, as her family was well off in Italy and she loved it there. So she left her hope chest with all her treasured posessions at her parents’ home, fully expecting to return. She never did, and her hope chest never came to America.

  • Like your first commenter I read I, Tituba, The Black Witch of Salem some years ago. I still have my copy. This is a time period that is fascinating. My father’s family arrived in Boston by ship from England in 1825. The boy who became my great-grandfather’s father was seven years old when he arrived, one of the seven children they brought with them. We know he become a tailor in Boston. But his son left the US for Canada. I would like to research where the families of his six Boston siblings ended up. Thank you for entering me to win this book.

  • This book sounds just wonderful! Please include me in your drawing.

    My grandmother is almost 90, and she grew up on a very small island in Oslo, Norway. They had no running water or electricity, and fruits and vegetables were very rare. They lived a very harsh life, but she has many amazing stories from her childhood. Her memory is fading now, but in her good moments, I like to talk with her and hear those stories. I would love to learn more about the island she grew up on, and the type of life she and her family lived.

    They came to America and entered at the Statue of Liberty. :) They were offered some fruit, which they had not really had growing up, so they ate and ate and ate, eventually becoming so sick that they were actually quarentined because the customes agents thought they were truely sick. :)

    Thanks for the great review! Wendi
    http://wendisbookcorner.blogspot.com (Check out my blog if you get a chance – I’ve just started it and would love some pointers!)

  • I’ve added a link to your contest under my giveaways section on my blog at http://wendisbookcorner.blogspot.com :)

  • lindymc

    Great review of a great-sounding book. My great-great grandfather was the first sheriff of Izard County in Arkansas, when that area of Arkansas was truly the frontier, before the Civil War. I’m sure he would have some stories to tell.

  • Sounds very interesting & I posted it on my blog-thanks:)

  • I wrote a tall tale version of this story last year on my blog, but in all seriousness I would like to know the answer to this one:

    Ever since the fourth grade I’ve been scared of hay bales. I don’t necessarily like to be around loose hay that much, either. Come to find out after doing some research on my dad’s family on the web, my grandfather’s grandfather was killed when a bail of hay fell on him and crushed him. When I found out about that it made all the hair on my body stand up on end. Grandpa said it happened when a freak storm hit while he was in the field, he burrowed in to get out of the storm and it collapsed in on him. Is there a connection between my fear of hay and Grandpa Drees or is it all just a coincidence?

  • Literate Housewife – and you said you didn’t have an interesting story! That’s pretty bizarre, I must say.

  • I’m not sure if this giveaway is international or not…but anyway. I am Australian, and my family history goes back to England. One of our ancesstors came to Australia as a sailor with the First Fleet, and married a female convict from the Second Fleet. He was shipwrecked twice, the first time at Norfolk Island, where he must of made the decision to stay with the new colony, and he was one of the few survivors of the second shipwreck, so he turned his back on the sea and turned to farming. He settled on the Hawkesbury River north of Sydney (which he had explored in the first few days of the colony as part of the first exploratory party), and was the oldest survivor of the First Fleet when he died. If he had learnt to write he could have written a great story!

  • One thing in my family history that would be interesting to research is where my ancestors lived. They were tenant farmers and moved around quite abit, so I’d like to know more about where exactly our family comes from.

    Please enter me in the giveaway!

  • Oh, I so want to read *The Heretic’s Daughter*!! It would be a bonus to win it in your giveaway.

    I’ve done a lot of family history/genealogy research. I love getting primary source documents – cemetery records, old newspaper articles, maps, census docs, etc.

    One thing I’ve uncovered is a Civil War Pension Record for one of my ancestors. It’s interesting because the records contain almost 120 pages of testimony as to his injury, as well as arguments from his (former) wife as to why she should get half the pension. A little post Civil War soap opera!

  • Wow those posts are so great! I love hearing about everyone’s family stories!

    I guess I would have to pick the story of a great great great grandma who emigrated from England to the U.S., married a native American, and lived and died in Indian Territory. What guts!

    Or maybe my great grandpa who emigrated to the U.S. from Russia with his family and was the only one to be put in quarantine. They were going to send him back but his brothers sneaked him out.

  • Amanada,
    You know, I’m not sure if it is international either, since the book is being sent directly from the publisher. I communicated with the publisher through Blog Stop Book Tours and not directly. I’ll keep you in the running and will just try to submit your address if you win.

  • So obviously I’m not good at winning your contests, but I shall enter this one as I am a supportive friend and fan of this blog from its inception :) If I was going to write a family history, it would be a la Rain of Gold by Victor Villasenior. My dad’s family is from Madera, Chihuahua, which is the capitol of Chihuahua, Mexico, and is hometown to none other than Mexican revolutionary hero Pancho Villa. My grandfather, Jose Maria Antillon was very “anglo” (as they say in my dad’s family) looking, and people were always confusing him for white; so, he had more Spanish blood. He was a very attractive man, women were always fawning over him, but he married my grandmother, Juana Calzadillas, who is very indigenous looking. The two indigenous groups in that area of Chihuahua are the Tarahumara and the Yaqui, but my grandmother and her family are of the Tarhumara tribe. SO: I would like to trace my grandfather’s line (b/c Antillon is not a very common Spanish name, there aren’t too many of us, even in Mexico, and it’s always mistaken for French) to Mexico and explore the racial dynamics of his relationship w/ my grandmother and talk about their story (She birthed 15 kids, incidentally…). So, that’s what I would do.

  • Judith Loue

    I am not sure if this is Politically Correct, but my grandmother’s uncles and brothers were into Bootlegging big time in Akron Ohio during Prohibition, and all the time i was growing up i hears the stories about them..but always in hushed tones of shame, etc…i came to learn later that these men got into running liquor out of Canada (across Lake Erie to Cleveland and thereabouts) because it was a Job and they were poor..so the glamor fades somewhat and hard truths set in
    i have done a bit of research into the Salem Witch Trials too..not much glamor there either
    please enter me into your book giveaway

  • My sister is the geneologist in the family and could explain it heaps better that I could but I know we are decendants of Thomas Jefferson on my maternal grandfather’s side. In fact, there are two lines in the family that lead back to him. The family is full of Toms and TJs.

    But if I was going to write a family history it would be about my husband’s family. They were Christian Germans who lived through WWII. Opa’s life was life was threatened when he refused to denounce his faith. He survived the prison camps of both the Germans and the Americans while his young wife and two babies(one of them my FIL) lived as refugees, begging for food and being mistreated by the military and the people who had come to hate the Germans. The story of how Oma and Opa found each other again and came to America is amazing. It was a beautiful heritage to marry into.

  • Carol

    A cousin of my father’s traced our family history back to the year 1230. A woman from Spain married and moved to Italy with her new husband. It wasn’t until the early 1900’s that their decendent (my grandfather) came to the United States. Thank you for the chance to win this book!

  • Could you remove my name from this giveaway? I just won The Heretic’s Daughter from another blog contest at Books and Cooks. I’m so excited but it means a little work for you. Sorry.

  • I’ve done a lot of research into my family. Turns out my many great-grandmother (she lived in Quebec in the 1730s) outlived four husbands. Guess she just worked them all too hard. :)

  • One thing I’d like to research—and actually could if I lived in a more convenient place and people weren’t so darn fussy about it—is that my grandmother’s father had a secret second family in a different part of England, and one day up and left my grandmother’s family. She found out years later that she had half-sisters her own age in London she had never known about; apparently they look just like her too.

  • I am related to Leland Stanford – Stanford University.
    I’m a 5th generation NATIVE Californian on my mother’s side.
    On my mother’s side, I am also related to a man who rode with Paul Revere and did the “The Red Coats Are Coming” alarm through the streets and alleys.

    That’s the only history I got… but, I gotta read this book!

    Sheri
    A Novel Menagerie

  • sandrar

    Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. :) Cheers! Sandra. R.

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