The Heretic's Daughter: A Novel [NOOK Book]

Overview

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...
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The Heretic's Daughter: A Novel

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Overview

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.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The panic and horror of the Salem witch trials in Kent's novel is conveyed with dead-eyed calm and an occasional tremor of emotion by Mare Winningham.... Her melodiousness is pleasing to the ear.... At times, the melody overwhelms the meaning, but Winningham is more than capable as a reader, and her reading of Kent's sad tale f women accused and accusing emits a hit of deeply buried, untouchable tragedy."—Publishers Weekly

"Powerful descriptions of 9-year-old Sarah's time in prison are depicted well by the fear, anger, and repulsion Winningham projects into her reading. Author Kent, a tenth-generation descendent of Martha Carrier, who was hanged as a witch in 1692, has an accurate vision for time and place, equaled by Winningham's narration."—AudioFile

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780316039673
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
  • Publication date: 9/3/2008
  • Sold by: Hachette Digital, Inc.
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 37,890
  • File size: 322 KB

Meet the Author

Kathleen Kent
Kathleen Kent lives in Dallas with her husband and son. THE HERETIC'S DAUGHTER is her first novel.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 225 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(94)

4 Star

(60)

3 Star

(35)

2 Star

(19)

1 Star

(17)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 226 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 21, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    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 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.

    15 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 3, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Heretic's Daughter vs Physick Book of Deliverance Dane

    I read this book and the Physick Book of Deliverance Dane. What a contrast! Heretic's Daughter is 99.9% based on actual fact, while the other books is a complete distortion of history which slanders the memory of the victims of the witch trials. It is truly depressing to me that the Physick book is so wildly popular (almost 300 reviews on B&N alone), while Heretic's Daughter is much less so. What a commentary.

    One of the things I liked about the Heretic's Daughter is that it takes the focus away from the trials. I don't know of another book or non-fiction that examines the impact of the event on the thousands of relatives of the accused nor reveals the ordeals of the accused who were "merely" imprisoned. Some people died in prison and they are as much victims of the witch hunt as the ones who were hung. Some were literally deranged by their experience, like the 5 year old Dorcas Hoar, who not surprisingly, was never "right in the head" after the experience. What an awful event, ministers of God accusing a 5 year old girl of being a witch and throwing her in prison. A truly horrible period in our history, which is respectfully and truthfully dealt with in this book. It is well written, poetic at times and does honor to the memory of the innnocent men and women who were victims of the hysteria.

    14 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 9, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    it's personal

    Most of my historical reading experience has been the Tudors with maybe a little bit before then with the Plantagenets. I usually don't delve into American History; I think it's too new and too young to even be considered history. (Yes, I know America is over 225 years old...but compared to Egypt and Asia and Europe, it's still too young!) I picked up this book at the Boston Book Festival in October because I met the author at one of the seminars. She gave a great review of the novel during her talk (of course she did...) and it caught my attention. So I bought it and even had her autograph it for me, then the second I got home, I entered New England, circa 1690.

    Considering this is a first novel by a new author, I am incredibly impressed. The imagery leaped out at me, and I could practically see the fear and the chaos that was the start and entire foundation of the Salem Witch Trials. Sarah Carrier takes you through her own ordeal-- her trial, being jailed, the hanging of her mother, everything-- so you see first-hand how the families in the area lived in trepidation.

    Kathleen Kent is related to Martha Carrier, Sarah's mother, so she grew up with this story. It is personal. And it comes out in the book. She tells the story with such care and honesty; no one who did not have a close personal connection to it would not have done such a great job. It is almost as though Ms Kent is proud to have had Martha as her ancestor; after all, Martha died for her beliefs, stating until the end that she was innocent of witchcraft. Who wouldn't want such a valiant ancestor?

    Going into the book, having listened to Ms Kent at the Book Festival, I knew the story. But that did not stop me from enjoying it! The story was written in such a way that the reader stuck with Sarah the entire time-- felt her pain and chagrin, her need for acceptance, her horrifying time in shackles. I can't really say I identified with her since I've never been put on trial for being a witch (I was a witch once for Halloween, but I don't think that counts), but she was very real and human and had to endure hardships that most of us don't even think about in our lifetimes.

    It's always good to step out of your comfort zone once in a while and read about a different era. It was actually rather refreshing and educational. Having lived in New England since high school, I did learn about the Witch Trials and have even been to Salem, but it definitely makes a difference to hear a first-hand account from someone who was there.

    10 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 3, 2009

    HIDDEN TRUTH

    Facing the crowd, you see the hate, the fear, the awe. But, none of that matters. You are looking for one lone figure. The tallest one, in the back. You say all you can with your eyes. Then, darkness invades as you drop away, followed by death. This is Martha Carrier's last moment -- standing before her community waiting to be hanged. In "The Heretic's Daughter" by Kathleen Kent, Martha and her family must survive the accusations that their small town of Salem, Massachusetts, has saddled them. With their mother gone and suspicious eyes still watching, Sarah Carrier must not only care of her brothers and sister but also keep her family safe from the gallows.

    A heart-wrentching story of one girl's survival of the biggest lie in American history. Kent writes eloquently and the tale flies along. This book is perfect for anyone who enjoys a look into the past, or anyone who enjoys a tale of survival and wits. I loved Kent's characters and her ability to place twists and hope in all the right places.

    Truly a good read that has earned its place on my bookshelf.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 18, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    Moving and captivating.

    I loved the fact that I could, through the writer's decription, picture the world of the Carrier's through their everyday life and the most horrific parts. Even knowing the outcome did not diminish this book one bit. Captivating and yet quite disturbing due to the history of the witch trials. It brings the story of these poor people who lived or died because of the trials alive. I feel as if I personally knew one of them.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 3, 2013

    This is an exceptional study of life during the Salem witch tria

    This is an exceptional study of life during the Salem witch trials.......and, even though, I thought I knew and understood the time period....Ms. Kent made it completely real and riveting. I had ancestors in the same jail with Martha Carrier, after reading 'The Heretics' Daughter', I came away with a totally different pov and respect for my ancestors.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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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 January 30, 2010

    Wonderfully Imagined & Written

    Taking a slice out of her family's own history, Kathleen Kent has written a novel that is touching and haunting. "The Heretic's Daughter" has left me thinking about the ties between friends, family, mothers and daughters, and one's faith. This is certainly not your "typical" Salem witch hunt novel.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 28, 2009

    Hauntingly Disturbing

    In-depth characters and historical background takes readers intimately back to the time during the Salem witch trials... Lets the reader see how easily an atrocity like this could happen - even in present day times.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 15, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Brutal, Realistic, and finally...Uplifting

    What struck me first about this narrative was how callous at times this family seems towards eachother, and I had to keep reminding myself that expectations were different then. Andover and Salem in the 1600's were a different reality altogether. Children were expected to occupy an entirely more active role in their family's toils, and if it seemed callous, it was only the complete acceptance that one needed to be strong and deal with what came along, even if you were only 10 years old.
    This is the backdrop for the story that unfolds, the harsh, unrelenting work of the everyday, and the people who bend themselves to it. Mary Carrier is no exception to this, but from the first, she is looking for something more. The craving she can't define comes to settle on her mother, Martha, a no-nonsense, common-sense woman who cannot abide foolishness, duplicity, and hypocrisy in anyone. She doesn't shy away from pointing these failings out to anyone, either, which garners a healthy amount of fear and animosity among her neighbors, and sets the stage for the confrontations during the Witch Trials that are to come.
    Mary doesn't observe this stregnth of character, however. What she sees is a hard, unfeeling woman who seems to care nothing for her children, who needs nothing from her children but their work. In comparison, her aunt and uncle, who she stays with during an outbreak of small pox, seem like heaven personified. Their care of her is so different from that of her own parents that Mary finds herself praying to God that her mother is struck down so that she never has to leave the haven she has found with her cousin's family. But leave she must, and her return to her family makes her so bitter that she is blind to the faith, stregnth, and moral fiber of her mother.
    In the traditions of Hawthorne, Miller, and countless others who have chronicled the tragedy of the Witch Trials, many elements conspire to bring Martha Carrier down: a feckless brother who wants an inheritance he isn't entitled to, an immoral bondservant who attempts to coerce one of the Carrier sons to marry her, and a town that can't abide the outspoken woman who illuminates them as they really are...petty, greedy, and foolish. The resulting torture and imprisonment of her family finally gives Mary what she was looking for all along. The love she imagined from her relatives disappears as the hysteria of the trials grows, and Mary comes to see that her mother's sacrifices and unrelenting strength of character are her legacy and her love for her family. This moment in the book is so painful, so poinant, and so well written that it stays with me even now. Mary's guilt after is almost unbearable, but she comes to the place her mother always intended her to be: I love you by giving you the person I know I am; I honor you by my unwillingness to waver from that compass, even if I must die.
    The audio version of this book is narrated by Mare Winningham, who does an exceptional job of conveying the horror, heartache, and hope of this story.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 6, 2009

    A touching story of maternal sacrifice.

    Set during a peculiar time of American history, this story tells how jealousies can lead to deliberate misunderstandings, lies and vengefulness -- an ugly underbelly of human nature.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 23, 2013

    An Excellent Read

    If I had not read so at the end, I would not have guesed this was a first book. Perhaps that speaks more to some of my latest reader choices however.

    The story is well written and plot, despite being historical, moves along at a good pace. Where the story's voice ponders, so do you. Descriptions are meaningful for the most part and do not drag the plot. I would recommend this coming of age novel to anyone.

    I was left emotionally satisfied despite the many emotions such stories put you through--sadness, anger to outrage, relief, and finally an overwhelming sense that Sarah turned out ok and a decent human being in opposition to the horror and injustice she endured.

    What I liked best, however, was that Sarah was never portrayed as a simpering little kid. She fought for her mother and the injustice she saw the best a ten year old female could during those times. Her God-job, her destiny, her purpose was not to fight "the man" or take on the world and defend the the whole of it all and make this monumental mark in history. That was her mothr's burden. Sarah was a force in her family and friends and to be a confidant, sort of, for her mother. By being the strong-willed, independent, cautious girl that her mother raised her to be, by example and treatment, she allowed her mother to feel better about how her family would get along after she made her stand for truth.

    I will read it again, one day, for it spoke to me.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 29, 2012

    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!

    1 out of 2 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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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 4, 2010

    Not good

    We chose this as our book club book and I had high hopes because of the topic, but it was not good. The author spends too much time with detail. It would take like two pages to tell us the room smelled bad. The writting did not flow well and it was anticlimactic. I would not recommend this book.

    1 out of 2 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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  • Posted February 16, 2009

    Easy enough yet draws ones attention

    Book was quite good and would continue to read others books put out by this author.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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