The Salem Witch Trials - a sad time in our history - where people were imprisoned and put to death for witchcraft. The Heretic's  Daughter by Kathleen Kent- #historical fiction, #reading, #books to read, #books

The Heretic's Daughter

By Kathleen Kent


PBR Book Review:

This is a fascinating look at life in the late 1600ís during the small pox epidemic and the Salem Witch trials. Kathleen Kent beautifully relates the details of every day life in this harsh period of our history. She skillfully depicts a society that twists and distorts facts to falsely accuse and convict a person of witchcraft. Itís disturbing to realize the ease with which one person accuses another of being a witch; often because of some petty jealousy. Intertwined in this rich historical detail is the beautiful story of a mother and daughter and how as their relationship evolves they come to understand and respect each other. The story shows how this family copes and survives living in a society that by todayís standards can only be referred to as not quite sane. This is a great read and one that should not be missed by historical fiction lovers


Book Club Talking Points:

This book, set during the Salem Witch trials, will spark conversation on many levels. There is a beautiful mother daughter theme that will generate conversation on unconditional love. The powerlessness of the family and friends of an accused witch and the unthinkable living conditions in prison will also be great discussion points. The manner in which the trials are carried out, the clear injustice to the victims and the religious zeal underlying this period of our history will also generate lots of emotion and discussion. This book will appeal to book clubs that enjoy well written captivating stories or historical fiction
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*Discussion Questions



1) How was Sarah changed by living with her cousin Margaret? How was she changed by returning to her family?

2) What was it about Martha's character that seemed to antagonize so many neighbors?

3) What do you think was the most compelling reason that Martha was eventually brought to trial?

4) Discuss the various factors that lead to the witch hysteria.

5) Why did Martha choose to take a stand of innocence knowing that a refused confession meant death?

6) Why did Thomas, despite his size and capabilities, not seek to persuade or deter Martha from her course of action?

7) Why did the community of Salem, and the magistrates, so easily believe in and rely on "spectral evidence?"

8) How has reading the book changed your opinions about the men and women hanged as witches?

9) Are there modern day "witches?"

10) Can we, or should we, redefine the meaning of the word "witch?"

(Discussion Questions by Author)


Book Summary
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 Marthaís 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 familyís deep and abiding love in the face of fear and persecution.

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