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The Heretic's Daughter

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

15 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

Courage

When studying the various phenomena of the Salem Witch Trials, it is close to impossible for today's reader to imagine the terror and the suffering experienced by the accused, including those who were not found guilty. In The Heretic's Daughter, author Kathleen Kent has...
When studying the various phenomena of the Salem Witch Trials, it is close to impossible for today's reader to imagine the terror and the suffering experienced by the accused, including those who were not found guilty. In The Heretic's Daughter, author Kathleen Kent has done a powerful,creditable job of approximating just that. The daughter of the title is arrested after her mother, Martha Carrier, one of the "witches" condemned to death and hanged. As she tells of her involvement, Sarah recounts the horrors of the summer and fall of 1692, and its slow but relentless progression from suspicion to execution, from incredulity to helplessness. Her narrative is a simple one, but so affecting that the reader is drawn into the insanity together with Sarah and her family, who were all but destroyed by the madness. The physical and emotional underpinnings of the mass delusion are seamlessly woven into the story, which seems as real as if it happened only a few years ago. The Heretic's Daughter is a stellar work of historical fiction, by far the best novelization of this topic that I've encountered.

posted by katknit on December 21, 2008

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Most Helpful Critical Review

1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

Glad it's over

One of the most boring books I have ever read. It drags on forever and never gives you anything new. Pass on this one!

posted by Qui0330 on May 29, 2012

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  • Posted February 21, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    interesting glimpse into a shameful part of american history

    the book is clearly about the daughter of a woman who is tried as a witch at the salem witch trials, yet you will be almost through with the book before we even get to this part of the story. the author spends the early parts of the book drawing a picture for the reader of the difficult times the settlers had adjusting to america, the jealousies and political alliances. it doesn't take long to pull the reader into this drama.

    this is an interesting, refreshing perspective of a part of history i knew little about. i recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical fiction.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 24, 2011

    Realistic views

    I have read a handful of books lately about the witches/Salem Witch Trials and have found this one to be the most realistic. It really put it all into perspective about how it must have been to be alive during this time and to be accused. This was the first book I've read that dealt with what it must have been like to be a prisoner and the horrific conditions. Very interesting characters that keep you wanting to know more and hope it ends differently then history tells us. A real eye opener. I highly recommend this anyone interested in the history of this subject.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 11, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Powerful emotional story

    Never has a book given me so many strong emotions as this one. It's amazing how mass hysteria can produce such irrational, mind baffling ideas that make the impossible become reality. I just couldn't believe they could get away with accusing these innocent people (even children) with the most ridiculous charges. I could actually feel myself get angry at such injustices. Especially towards Sarah and her mother. It made me want to go in there and give everybody a good slap and wake up call. Nevertheless, I thought the book was a good read. A book that stirs such emotions is definitely worth a read. There was a point in the book (the trial part) where it literally made my blood boil and I had to set it down a couple of times, to me, that just means the book was good. Really good.

    The characters in the book were very well written. I loved the relationship between Sarah and her mother. Although strained, and even cold, it's a lot like the mother-daughter relationships today. When Sarah comes to terms with her mother, it's sad and quite possibly filled with regrets but it changes Sarah from a naive young girl to a mature one, who now sees the world in a very different way. I also thought her relationship with her father was interesting as well and it's an eye opener when she realizes that her parents are loving and caring even if they don't display it openly. I really did like reading this through Sarah's point of view. It's amazing and I really enjoyed her character development. I also liked Martha (Sarah's mother) as well. She was so strong willed and strong minded, she was an extremely admirable woman and her actions while in jail were extremely brave.

    This book also got me to hate certain characters far more than usual. Mercy and her little sidekick Phoebe were absolutely hateful and are just as bad as present day bullies at school. Mercy really got to me though, if it wasn't for her, Sarah's life might have been different. Argh. Horrible hateful Mercy!

    The only real complaint I have is the 'red book' mentioned. It is given to Sarah yet the contents within the book were never revealed. That was a bit of a disappointment for me, I was curious and wanting to know what secrets it might have, and to have it never discussed made the ending lacking. Also, the focus on Sarah's moments in prison were a little too long winded and dragged for a bit. It could have been slightly shorter.

    Pick this book up and be ready for the emotional ride. The book is well written and generates a lot of feeling from the reader. Don't expect any happy feelings from this one though. It covers tragic events and is an eye opener on how mass hysteria can run amok, and how easily people (even family) can turn against one another.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 2, 2011

    Creates disturbing energy

    This is the sort of book that is disturbing to read, leaves you with raw emotions, and connects you to everyone in our history who has ever been tortured and abused. It makes you think, 'How can this happen,' and then makes you afraid that it can happen again. It was moving and historically insigntful, no matter how much you think you know about that period of time.

    When you put this book down you find yourself desparately searching for something lighter, something that makes you believe again in human nature and humanity.

    Higly recommended.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 28, 2010

    great story....

    great story based on true historical fact. the only reason i did not rate this book 5 stars is because i had hoped there would be more details revealed about sarah's father. i would recommend this book to a friend and read another by this author.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 17, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    One Book At A Time

    I have to be honest in saying the book was a little different for me. I think it's because you know what is coming. I kept thinking it was slow because I wanted it to get to the part were the panic has set in and people are being accused left and right. Man that makes me sound like I crave the gruesome. But, at the same time as thinking the story was slow, I would realize I was reading huge chunks of it in the blink of an eye. I guess I was thinking the story focused more on the witch trials, when that's not the case. It's about family and how they stand together during extreme circumstances. It's also about a very interesting relationship between a mother and a daughter and how that changes during this time. You do eventually get a sense of what it was like for those who stood accused of witchcraft, but it's such a small part of the story. It is amazing what this family went through. You get the sense that they are even stronger than what they were before such an ordeal. It left me thinking about it even after I read the last page.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 20, 2013

    Good book

    Very interesting

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 8, 2013

    This book gave me the shivers. It reminded me of the cruelty o

    This book gave me the shivers. It reminded me of the cruelty of people who become enthralled in the "righteousness" of their so - called beliefs, mostly religious, but also political bigots.

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  • Posted September 20, 2011

    Wonderful!

    Kathleen Kent's novel highlights a tragic period of American History transporting the reader into the town of Salem in 1692.

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  • Posted August 12, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A different look at the Salem Witch Trials

    Kent takes readers on a journey through the horrors of the Salem Witch Trials through the eyes of the daughter of one of the so-called "witches." The story is a fictionalized account of a very real event.
    Kent's style is breezy while keeping with the sentiments and language of the times, whenever possible.

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  • Posted April 18, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    The Salem Witch Project

    Everyone, I'm sure, has heard of the Salem Witch Trials from the history books or their own curiosity. Innocent people were convicted and sentenced to death for their supposed practice of witchcraft. The mass hysteria was caused by a few teenage girls having fun and/or out for revenge. They were the original "Mean Girls." Today, the crimes these girls committed (and got away with) also have a modern day reference in news stories involving Facebook/MySpace bullying. "Remarkable that with a few words maidenheads become like reputations. Easily broken, easily mended."

    THE HERETIC'S DAUGHTER tells a story of that time period from the perspective of Sarah Carrier, daughter of Martha Carrier, one of the women convicted of witchcraft and hanged for her supposed crimes. The author offers a detailed background about life in and around Salem, Massachusetts in the late 1600s to help set the mood for the somber tale to come. Like life in the late 17th century, the novel unveils itself at a slow pace. Occasionally, unfortunately, a bit too slow for my liking. The novel probably could have been condensed and edited and still been a decent tale.

    While well-written, THE HERETIC'S DAUGHTER didn't really go anywhere or reveal much that I didn't already know. Many times, I thought the author was building up to something, but too often, nothing happened. Everything was very anticlimactic. Even the trials, hangings, and people's reactions to these horrific events were glossed over.

    So, while I think the author did a fantastic, five-star job of capturing life in America in the late 1600s and created an Anne Frank-type likeable character in Sarah, I don't think she provided much of a forward-moving story that would hold a lot of people's interests.

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  • Posted January 22, 2011

    Heretic's Daughter

    I loved this book. Wonderfully written. I could not put it down.

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  • Posted December 3, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Addictive Must Read

    I absolutely loved this book! I found it on the sale table at my local BN store and I really don't know why it was there because it is such a great read. Who hasn't read the Scarlet Letter but this book delves deeper; taking a look at a family marred by the absurdity of the Salem witch trials. Through the eyes of the main character, a 10yr old girl named Sarah Carrier, the reader sees a view of what it was like to live during the late 1600's near Andover and the towns directly affected by the Salem witch trials. Our history books have taught us one thing but this book, though fiction, gives us an opportunity to imagine the reality of individuals subjected to the harsh hotbed of lies, deceit, jealousy and false piety that resulted in many men, women and even children being wrongly accused, jailed and hung. Here is the story of Sarah, her family, her town and her struggle for survival. I was so touched by this book, I remember sitting on the bus reading it and almost crying. I too am my mother's daughter.

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  • Posted July 6, 2010

    Historical fiction at its finest

    Novels that describe time and place through believable characters make interesting historical fiction. This was a sad time in America's history, but I learned a lot. Kent wrote a novel that is hard to put down.

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  • Posted May 7, 2010

    Insightful

    This story will open up to you another rendition of the Salem witch trials (although not in Salem). The description of life on a farm at this time in history, and the beliefs held and forced on to the people of the colonies was insightful. There are no witchcraft or spells, or anything of that nature in the story. Very good look into this part of history.

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  • Posted April 10, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Good portrayal of life and death in Salem

    This book kept me interested even though it was quite depressing. I definitely thought the author did a good job of portraying life in those times and how tough it was. I felt I really understood the characters and what motivated them. The story was slow moving.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 28, 2010

    Wonderful Details - but sometimes too many

    I blindly selected this as my choice for our Book Club. I am happy I did, because it has some great topics for discussion. Not just about witchcraft, persecution, and freedom, but mother-daughter-family relationships as well. I also took the time to check out my ancestry, as I have a "Chapman" in my family history, about the same time & location as the woman in the letter. How fun it would be to reveal to my fellow members that I am a witch! (alas, I am not). The writing of the book is beautiful and I appreciate the detailed descriptions of the "mundane" life of the time: the hardships, the sanitation, the food, the working conditions, the medicine - and, of course, the horrendous prison conditions. I hung on every word and really felt as if I was there. However, other passages (i.e., butterflies in the field) were too long and not realistic for what a young girl might be thinking (even as an adult in retrospect). They did not advance the story or give me more information. If anything, they got me off track. They were "writer" words. This took me out of the young character. I also anxiously awaited the "revelation" only to realize it had been revealed much earlier. I am glad I read the book and learned valuable information, but think quite a few pages could have been judiciously edited to keep the tension, story, and impact going to the bittersweet end.

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  • Posted February 26, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    enjoyed

    I enjoyed this book. It moved a little slow in the beginning. I liked how the writer explained the prison environment.

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  • Posted January 9, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    The Heretic's Daughter - a heartbreaking story

    I really liked the book. It was an account of one family's struggles during the times of the Salem Witch Trials. It's really hard to believe that anyone ever survived that time. It also explains why women have had to fight so very hard for equality. Any women in this time period that had a bit of spunk, independence or knowledge was labeled a witch!

    The book is very interesting and also very sad - almost dark. I recommend it but did not LOVE it.

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  • Posted September 23, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Enjoyable

    I was very much surprised by how much I enjoyed reading this book. It was one to be read more slowly, rather than having a moving plot. At the same time, I did read it rather quickly. Unfortunately, as you read, you already know that the outcome will not be good. Still, I think that foreshadowing drives the reading, as you keep turning to see what exactly will happen.

    Great book! All along, I was turned off by the cover (thought it looked kind of boring), but this one really surprised me.

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