The Heretic's Daughter
by Kathleen Kent
Praise For This Book:
"Gripping and evocative, Heretic is a powerful tale of perilous time." — People Magazine (3 ½ stars)

"The most shocking aspect of the 17th-century Salem witch trials was that anyone with a grudge could accuse a neighbor of being in league with the devil…It is the fundamental outrageousness of these tragic events that Kathleen Kent portrays to great effect in her debut novel, THE HERETIC'S DAUGHTER… Kent tells a heart-wrenching story of family love and sacrifice. Its warnings about the dire consequences of intolerance and fundamentalism still have meaning in the modern world…" — USA Today

"…a powerful coming-of-age tale in which tragedy is trumped by an unsinkable faith in human nature…Like The Crucible, THE HERETIC'S DAUGHTER uses the Salem witch hunt to explore larger themes…but at its core, it's a story about a family." — New York Times Book Review (Editor's Choice)

"[a] sure-footed first novel that draws from Martha's tribulations to evoke the short-lived witch hysteria in the New England colonies…. THE HERETIC'S DAUGHTER is haunting; unlike in seventeenth-century Salem, there is real magic at work here." — Texas Monthly

"A family's conflict becomes a battle for life or death in this gripping and original first novel…Sarah's front row view of the trials and the mayhem that sweeps the close-knit community provides a fresh, bracing and unconvential take on a much covered episode." — San Fransisco Examiner

"[a] close look at family and village life, at the hearth and the harshness out of which the accusations of witchcraft grew… The misery behind bars reflects Kent's rich imagination. She also shows the fruits of historical research in details that let you glimpse the past as it was lived, in the barn or field, at the inn or church. To this she adds descriptive gifts…. It goes on like that, wonderfully. I hope Kent does too." — Bloomberg News

"Kathleen Kent takes a new approach to an old topic, the 17th-century Salem, Mass., witch trials, in her engrossing debut novel, THE HERETIC'S DAUGHTER…. Ms. Kent movingly sketches the lives of this extended family as they get drawn into the maelstrom of unfounded suspicion and religious insanity, which eventually put more than 150 people behind bars as accused witches, including many children, Sarah and her siblings among them….Ms. Kent brings a gentle decency to her portrait of this nasty episode in American life." — Dallas Morning News

"A family's conflict becomes a battle for life and death in this gripping and original first novel based on family history from a descendant of a condemned Salem witch. After a bout of smallpox, 10-year-old Sarah Carrier resumes life with her mother on their family farm in Andover, Mass., dimly aware of a festering dispute between her mother, Martha, and her uncle about the plot of land where they live. The fight takes on a terrifying dimension when reports of supernatural activity in nearby Salem give way to mass hysteria, and Sarah's uncle is the first person to point the finger at Martha. Soon, neighbors struggling to eke out a living and a former indentured servant step forward to name Martha as the source of their woes. Sarah is forced to shoulder an even heavier burden as her mother and brothers are taken to prison to face a jury of young women who claim to have felt their bewitching presence. Sarah's front-row view of the trials and the mayhem that sweeps the close-knit community provides a fresh, bracing and unconventional take on a much-covered episode." — Publisher's Weekly

"History is more than facts and figures; it's something that happens to all of us. That's the thought that may strike readers of Kent's luminous first novel, set at the time of the Salem witch trials. In fact, Martha Carrier, Kent's grandmother back nine generations, was hanged as a witch in 1692. As portrayed here by her daughter, Sarah, Martha is a proud, stubborn, prickly woman, unbending in her beliefs and uninterested in public opinion. When Sarah returns to her family, having been sent away with a little sister because one of her brothers has the plague, she's not sure she wants to go back to her cold mother and dour, seven-foot father, who has some mysterious connection to Cromwell. But when malicious girls start pointing fingers, neighbor turns against neighbor, and Martha is told she will be arrested for witchcraft, she will not run, and she will not make a false confession. But Martha tells Sarah that when she is interrogated about her mother's activities, she must lie to save herself. Amidst the painful details of jail and persecution, deep-seated suspicion and familial betrayal, it is this powerful act of love that crowns the book. Highly recommended." — Library Journal

"Kent, a tenth-generation descendant of Martha Carrier (who was hanged as a witch in Salem in 1692), personalizes the witchcraft trials in this fictional account by Martha's daughter. Sarah Carrier was just nine years old when she and her three older brothers also were arrested for witchcraft, spending months imprisoned under horrific conditions while following their mother's dictum of admitting the charges against them to escape death. But Martha gave her life maintaining her innocence in the face of lying accusations that were fueled by her sharp tongue, her family's unknowingly bringing smallpox to Andover from their home in Billerica, family disputes (including tensions between a mother and her preadolescent daughter), and grudges between neighbors—all at a time when any negative event was thought to be the work of the devil in human form. Kent brings history to life in this vivid, sometimes wrenching account of a child and her family sustained by love through the hysteria of the time. An illuminating literary debut." — Booklist

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