Skip to main content
PBS logo
 
 
Want fewer ads?

Book Reviews of The Heretic's Daughter

The Heretic's Daughter
The Heretic's Daughter
Author: Kathleen Kent
ISBN-13: 9780330456302
ISBN-10: 033045630X
Publication Date: 9/4/2009
Pages: 400
Rating:
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
 2

3.5 stars, based on 2 ratings
Publisher: Pan Books
Book Type: Paperback
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

42 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

reviewed The Heretic's Daughter on + 3 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 9
I had no idea what this book was about. It was a selection for a book club I am in. I loved it! I knew very little about the Salem Witch Trials and this book opened my eyes! The torture of men as well as women accused of witchery based on flimsy testimony was horrible. The lives that were affected and the lengths people would go to accuse or save others was unreal. If you are the least bit interested or ignorant of these times, you will gain much from this book!
broucek avatar reviewed The Heretic's Daughter on + 48 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 7
The Heretic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent is a stunner of a debut novel.
Kent is a descendant of Martha Carrier who was hung as a witch during the Salem Witch Trials.
She takes Martha's story and tells it through the eyes of Martha's daughter Sarah, who was forced to testify against her mother and confess to witchcraft at the age of eight. The book is an incredibly powerful historical novel with plenty of accuracy along with dynamic characters.

Sarah (who in the book is a bit older than the real child) lives a hard life working beside her taciturn parents and three older brothers on their hardscrabble farm. She is responsible for caring for her one-year old sister Hannah when the two are forced to live with her aunt and uncle during an outbreak of smallpox in the home. Her aunt and uncle are loving and friendly and Sarah's hard heart slowly blossoms under their care. This only hardens her heart even further toward her mother when she's returned to them several months later. But things are changing in their Andover, Massachusetts home. Witches have been discovered in Salem, and whispers and rumors are sweeping the countryside like wildfire. Kent carefully lays the case for Martha's charge of witchcraft: a jealous nephew, an angry neighbor, a humiliated serving girl. Each person becomes a strand in the noose around Martha's neck.

Kent does a masterful job of portraying the suspicion and dread as more and more neighbors are arrested, including Sarah's kind uncle, who isn't who she thought he was. She makes a promise to her mother that both imprisons and frees Sarah.
The descriptions of the horror of the jails the accused (including infants and small children) inhabited are unspeakable, and yet Sarah endures to learn what real love is. Of her mother's quiet, unfathomable, deep, unspoken love versus the shallow, easy, uncomplicated love of her aunt and uncle, Sarah learns which one stands in the face of adversity and so Sarah learns to stand and love as well.

The ending alludes to a secret story in Sarah's father's past, one I hope Kent tackles with her next book. This book will change the way history remembers the Salem Witch Trials when seen through the eyes of a child.
natalietahoe avatar reviewed The Heretic's Daughter on + 70 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 7
Quietly amazing -- that's how it should be phrased.

How incredible to read the story of Thomas and Martha Carrier and their family during the Salem Witch Trials, written by a descendant of this couple. It takes a while to build up, which I must admit, at first I urgently wanted it to pick up a bit, but once it did, I understood why the story moved slowly at the beginning. It built up your awareness to this family's story and then to the trials; the style of writing truly gives you the feeling of living in this time frame.

When you start to read this, be patient. It does move faster after it has set the stage for how much it will blow you away with each startling page of the cruelty in the Salem Witch Trials, the ridiculousness of the mass hysteria, and the squalor that the prisoners had to live in, from toddlers to aging great-grandmothers. You will not be disappointed by the descriptions and the fluidity of each written word.
Philly avatar reviewed The Heretic's Daughter on + 38 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 5
I never knew too much about the Salem Witch trials until I read this book. Fascinating account of the superstitious destruction of so many families. It started a little slow, but picked up toward the middle and I couldn't put it down. A must read for folks interested in American historical fiction (with a great deal of history).
reviewed The Heretic's Daughter on + 29 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
I found this a very satisfying read. I didn't find it got off to a slow start, rather that it established the rhythms of the time and gave us a good description of a typical life during this era. This start explained how the hysteria of the time was allowed to continue. I enjoyed this book and it spooked me for days to come
reviewed The Heretic's Daughter on + 5 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
This was a great discussion book. I had heard of the witch trials in Salem but this brought it together with the characters' personal involvement. The dangers of speaking your own mind and being in any way different than what the government of the day and their church dictated is examined here. Our discussion lent to the insanity of that time period and we found out about a historical event.
theotherjamie avatar reviewed The Heretic's Daughter on + 20 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
This is a story of the Salem witch trials told through the eyes of Sarah Carrier, a ten year old child. Sarah lives in Andover with her parents, her brothers, and her two year old sister. By the end of the first chapter I was invested in the Carrier family, their struggle to coax a living from the land, and the hard times that I knew were coming.

Most readers will be familiar with the Salem witch trials of 1692. Among the accused are Sarah's mother Martha Carrier. As you read, you will watch neighbor turn against neighbor and friend turn against friend as the hysteria escalates. This book is also a story about a mother's love. Kent illustrates how one cannot always judge by exterior signs the depth of love and devotion a parent has for a child. In the story, Martha asks Sarah to commit an act of heresy that will both condemn Martha to death and save Sarah and her brothers.

Kathleen Kent's crisp prose and a well-rounded plot bring the story to life. I was able to lose myself within the pages of this book. I came to love the Carrier family and the story of Sarah, the Heretic's Daughter.
Readnmachine avatar reviewed The Heretic's Daughter on + 1408 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
Well-done novel about the family of one of the women hanged during the Salem witch trials, told from the viewpoint of her young daughter. It has a slow, almost leisurely pace, but is rich with detail and well-drawn characters.
reviewed The Heretic's Daughter on + 628 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
This was an excellent book about the Salem Witch Trials in the 1690's. It is raw and brutal but helped me understand how such atrocities could be in our history, by the hand again, of religion. This was Kathleen Kent's first novel and fills in what happened to Martha Carrier "The Traitor's Wife" and children. I have to say I like "The Traitor's Wife" better, but then as her second novel, it is written better. It really doesn't matter which order you read them in tho.
reviewed The Heretic's Daughter on
Helpful Score: 2
Kathleen Kent does and excellent job of taking this period of our "ancient history" and giving it a beating heart. Following the Carrier family from their daily lives through the harassment, accusations of witchcraft, arrests and imprisonment and culminating with the aftermath of this shameful event. I couldn't put this book down; it wasn't a leisurely stroll through the pages, but a race to see how it ended.
2manyb00ks avatar reviewed The Heretic's Daughter on + 203 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
Really enjoyed this book. The author did an awesome job combining fact and fiction. The characters were very likable and realistic. After reading this, I really want to read more about the Salem Witch Trials. I think the next Salem Witch trials book I will read is "The Salem Witch Trials: A Day-by-Day Chronicle of a Community Under Siege" by Marilynne K. Roach.
cathyskye avatar reviewed The Heretic's Daughter on + 2214 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
First Line: The distance by wagon from Billerica to neighboring Andover is but nine miles.

Thomas and Martha Carrier are strong-willed, unyielding people, convinced that they know what is fair and what is not. They wish nothing better than to be left alone to live by their own conscience; however, this is something that goes greatly against the Puritan grain in the Massachusetts of 1690. After property line disputes and other unpleasantness with neighbors in Billerica, the Carriers and their five children move to Andover to live with Martha's mother. Things go relatively smoothly until Martha's mother dies and leaves the Carriers her house and land. With the witch trials in Salem being spoken of in every town, this is a very dangerous time to make enemies.

Author Kathleen Kent is a tenth-generation descendant of Martha Carrier, one of the first women to be accused, tried, and hanged as a witch in Salem, Massachusetts. She tells the story through the eyes and voice of Martha's young daughter, Sarah, who doesn't always understand the undercurrents of action and emotion that are swirling around her.

This is a haunting, evocative tale filled with rich detail that vividly brings scene after scene to life. But try as I might, I never warmed up to the characters, and I just couldn't get carried away by the story. I'm puzzled by this because I can't put my finger on the reason why the characters didn't fire my imagination.

Be that as it may, I still think this is a good book and well worth reading. Don't let my tepid reaction to the characters put you off. The Heretic's Daughter is well-written historical fiction, and your mileage will certainly vary.
bookwormmama avatar reviewed The Heretic's Daughter on + 29 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
I enjoyed this novel and found it intriguing. If you're expecting a book about the trials, I think this covers it, but not in the way you expect. The story leads you into all the affects of the trial, the misery, mistrust, and pain these trials created.

A good read, melodramatic in some ways, but truthful and descriptive. I think you will enjoy it if you like 18th century lit or reading historic fiction.
KNadine avatar reviewed The Heretic's Daughter on + 18 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
I read this book for my book club and loved it.
It is a different spin on the usual Salem Witch Trial books, and the fact that it is based in truth I enjoyed.
The wording was easy to read yet put the reader in the time frame of the story.
While it is not a "happy" book, it is a powerful read, make's you wonder how anyone survived...
I cried and enjoyed my good cry, can't wait for her next book, which also is based in fact...my family is not nearly as interesting, or at least documented about!
It's worth the read, highly recommend this book.
PS.
Our book club leader is also a geneologist (spelling?) and printed historical documents that support much of this book, facinating!
lilpenguin avatar reviewed The Heretic's Daughter on + 43 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
I found this book lacking and very boring. The book is slow to start and the witch trials aren't mentioned until the middle of the book. Towards the end of the book I simply skimmed the pages to get the just of the story and even that was boring. I am sorely disappointed in this book. All I can say is thankfully I recieved the book through this website and I didn't have to pay for it.
bananapancakes avatar reviewed The Heretic's Daughter on + 95 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
This book was very enjoyable and interesting. A behind the scenes look at one family affected by the Salem witch trials.
acope avatar reviewed The Heretic's Daughter on + 3 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Based on fact, Kent being a descendent of Martha Carrier, this deals with the Salem Witch Trials and the effect on the family and their personal relationships. It focuses on the courage of Martha and made me ask myself the question if I could have been that determined. Focuses on Sarah's misconceived impressions of her Mother's love for her family, the relationship of her Father and Mother. It was a horrible time in the history of Salem and takes you right into that history. Hard to imagine that happening but ask yourself if it could happen today? Very good read, especially if you like historical fiction based on real happenings...
reviewed The Heretic's Daughter on
Helpful Score: 1
The Heretic's Daughter was a beautifully woven story of the events leading up to and after the Salem witch trials. It was great.
escapeartistk avatar reviewed The Heretic's Daughter on + 207 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
While I won't say that I didn't like it, it wasn't nearly as good as I had hoped. The story plods along throughout, not reaching the main source of conflict until about halfway through the novel, and has no real climax. It reads more like an homage to family history and the hard lifestyle of the times; however, those aspects, at least, were interesting enough for me to finish the book.
reviewed The Heretic's Daughter on + 16 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I could not have loved it more! I reserve a 5 star for only the best and this is it. If you know about the truth of the salem "witch" trials of 1692- You know how it will end but, how you see events unfold through the eyes and maturing understanding of Sarah is fabulous. Well written, complex characters, engaging and compelling
I savored every word yet longed to know the ending. Descriptions of life, conditions felt so real you can nearly smell the stench in the dungeon. Additionally I HIGHLY recommend the prequal by the same author, but do read The Heretic's Daughter" first and "The traitor's Wife"(also published as "Wolves of Andover") second.
reviewed The Heretic's Daughter on + 27 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Portions were taken from the journal of the author's
ancestor. Different perspective from some of the current
Literature. Hold's your interest.
reviewed The Heretic's Daughter on + 301 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I have been to Salem and I know something about the witch trials, so I was looking forward to this book. Particularly so because the author has a connection through an ancestor to this historic period. I gave it 80 pages before quitting. Those 80 pages were boring beyond words (of which the author found a plethora of boring words). A pity because this was such an interesting event.
RockStarGirl avatar reviewed The Heretic's Daughter on + 329 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
This story of the historic witch trials is told through the perspective of a young girl whose mother was taken and eventually hanged for witchcraft. The book was loosely based on a real life ancestor of the author. It's incredible to read about how little it took to convince the masses that people were doing the devil's bidding, regardless of any logic to the contrary. Those who lied and admitted to witchcraft were the lucky ones....they were imprisoned and put into cells to rot. Children were not spared, because even a four year old could be possessed by the devil. It's hard to believe that there was ever such a time that inhumanity and paranoia could control a society the way it did during that time. The Heretic's Daughter is a chilling read, if for nothing else, because of the intimate look at a society gone mad.
reviewed The Heretic's Daughter on + 16 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I could not have loved it more! I reserve a 5 star for only the best and this is it. If you know about the truth of the salem "witch" trials of 1692- You know how it will end but, how you see events unfold through the eyes and maturing understanding of Sarah is fabulous. Well written, complex characters, engaging and compelling
I savored every word yet longed to know the ending. Descriptions of life, conditions felt so real you can nearly smell the stench in the dungeon. Additionally I HIGHLY recommend the prequal by the same author, but do read The Heretic's Daughter" first and "The traitor's Wife"(also published as "Wolves of Andover") second.
Munro avatar reviewed The Heretic's Daughter on + 95 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Written by a direct descendant of Martha Carrier, who was hanged for witchcraft in 1692, This book is a haunting account of the horrors that enveloped Salem during the infamous Salem witch trials. Based on the accusations of a dozen young girls, neighbor is pitted against neighbor, friend against friend, nd the hysteria escalates, sweeping more than 200 men, women and children into prison on charges of witchcraft.
spiritedbabe59 avatar reviewed The Heretic's Daughter on + 106 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Written by a direct descendant of the main character, this retelling of the Salem Witch Trials was very interesting. What a dark part of our history in young America that capitalized on ignorance and fear. One of the parts of this story portrayed so well - here and in other accounts - is how reason was lost - if these accused were really able to fly or make themselves invisible, why would they have allowed themselves to remain locked up or to be hanged? Author uses stories passed down in her family as well as research of the topic as well and the mix results in a great tale!
reviewed The Heretic's Daughter on
Helpful Score: 1
I really enjoyed this book. I have heard a lot about the Salem witch trails, but this book gave me a fresh perspective as to how truly horrific this event was. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who loves historical fiction.
dinah avatar reviewed The Heretic's Daughter on + 11 more book reviews
I enjoyed The Heretic's Daughter immensely. Every time I returned to read this story, I got wrapped up in the characters lives and was shocked by the strange beliefs of some people at that time. A very moving novel.
reviewed The Heretic's Daughter on + 1417 more book reviews
This a very good read. The story is sensitive, sad and soul stirring. It takes one to the days of witch trials where anyone who had a grudge against another, disliked them or felt wronged by them could accuse that person. How could people be deceived by such lies is hard to understand but superstition ran rampant, particularly in those long desolate lonely winters. Even though I passed up this read many times it because I did not want to read about witch trials, I recommend that this as a choice for anyone who hopes to learn more about our past. The author does an excellent job of helping one understand life during these days. The unlikely fact event of a dessert made from wild rhubarb growing at that time does not detract from this haunting tale. (Rhubarb is an imported cultivated plant from China).
reviewed The Heretic's Daughter on + 19 more book reviews
Well told family saga. Made me want to read more about Mary Carrier. This book was realistic in covering life in colonial America with hardships and survival at all costs. Mary knows what she must do for her daughter to survive not only a witch hunt but just life as a woman. By the end of the book, I liked and respected all of the main characters.
reviewed The Heretic's Daughter on + 81 more book reviews
This was actually a "FABIL" recommendation to me and I LOVED IT! I won't go into the storyline, since so many others have summated it well. I don't think you will be disappointed if you choose to read this. Ms Kent is a wonderful storyteller. The story, being narrative, didn't lose my interest EVER. I look forward to reading more novels by her, hoping they are equally enthralling.

Fascinating.
reviewed The Heretic's Daughter on
This well-written book from first-time author Kathleen Kent, is very compelling. She has woven her own family history, handed down through nine generations, into the larger fabric of the history of the Salem Witch Trial time period. Excellently researched, I came away with a greater understanding of what happened and how it effected the people of the time.
perryfran avatar reviewed The Heretic's Daughter on + 1125 more book reviews
Very engaging novel about the Salem witch trials of the late 17th century. This is told from the perspective of 10-year old Sarah Carrier whose mother was hung as a witch in 1692. Kent uses very vivid descriptions of life in that time including life on a farm in Andover, Massachusetts, and then life in the filth of a prison cell full of accused witches, both female and male. She brings to life how mass hysteria of some young girls led to the deaths of many innocents. I would recommend this one for anyone interested in life in the colonies during the 1600s and anyone interested in the Salem witch trials and executions.
NancyAZ avatar reviewed The Heretic's Daughter on + 87 more book reviews
3.5 Stars
This book recounts a young girl's story of her life in 1692 in Massachusets and also portrays the bond that exists between mother and daughter no matter what. The reader learns about life on the farm she lived on, the love and tribulations of family and the hysterics surrounding the accusations of young girls who claimed to be victims of spells put upon them by neighbors and residents of surrounding towns.

I knew very little about this this time in our history so it was interesting and alarming to learn what went on back then. The young girl, Sarah, watches as her mother is accused of being a witch and put in jail. Eventually Sarah is also jailed and the descriptions of the jail conditions is horrifying and sad. It is scary how people's minds can be maniupulated into believing such unreasonable accusations.

My rating would have been 4 stars except there were parts in the book that read more like a history book than a novel. It seemed like a listing of facts of others that were imprisoned and eventually hanged or released.
Overall though a well written book and an enjoyable read
reviewed The Heretic's Daughter on
very good book
reviewed The Heretic's Daughter on + 19 more book reviews
It was a good book. About Salem witch trails
reviewed The Heretic's Daughter on + 5 more book reviews
Very good book. The characters bring you to them and feel their hardship.
reviewed The Heretic's Daughter on + 2 more book reviews
Excellent book! We have an ancestor among those who were hung for being witches so it was eye-opening.
reviewed The Heretic's Daughter on + 11 more book reviews
Excellent read! I loved the fact that it was based on true events.
reviewed The Heretic's Daughter on + 17 more book reviews
Great, from a historical viewpoint.
reviewed The Heretic's Daughter on + 16 more book reviews
I could not have loved it more! I reserve a 5 star for only the best and this is it. If you know about the truth of the salem "witch" trials of 1692- You know how it will end but, how you see events unfold through the eyes and maturing understanding of Sarah is fabulous. Well written, complex characters, engaging and compelling
I savored every word yet longed to know the ending. Descriptions of life, conditions felt so real you can nearly smell the stench in the dungeon. Additionally I HIGHLY recommend the prequal by the same author, but do read The Heretic's Daughter" first and "The traitor's Wife"(also published as "Wolves of Andover") second.
nyteacher avatar reviewed The Heretic's Daughter on + 152 more book reviews
The Salem Witch trials are one of the darkest periods in our history. The Heretic's Daughter takes an in depth look at this time through the eyes of a child. While we see how cruel people can be, it is primarily a story about the human will to survive. It's a story that will stay with me for a long time.
Want fewer ads?