The Heretic's Daughter

The Heretic's Daughter

by Kathleen Kent


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A woman condemned by the truth. Her daughter saved by a lie.
Salem, 1752. Sarah Carrier Chapman, weak with infirmity, writes a letter to her granddaughter that reveals the secret she has closely guarded for six decades: how she survived the Salem Witch Trials when her mother did not.

Sarah's story begins more than a year before the trials, when she and her family arrive in a New England community already gripped by superstition and fear. As they witness neighbor pitted against neighbor, friend against friend, the hysteria escalates—until more than two hundred men, women, and children have been swept into prison. Among them is Sarah's mother, Martha Carrier. In an attempt to protect her children, Martha asks Sarah to commit an act of heresy—a lie that will most surely condemn Martha even as it will save her daughter.

This is the story of Martha's courageous defiance and ultimate death, as told by the daughter who survived.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780316024495
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication date: 10/12/2009
Pages: 332
Sales rank: 97,732
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range: 14 - 18 Years

About the Author

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

What People are Saying About This

Anita Shreve

The Heretic's Daughter is raw, honest and completely captivating...

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The Heretic's Daughter 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 306 reviews.
John_Haledescendant More than 1 year ago
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.
katknit More than 1 year ago
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.
kuhlcat More than 1 year ago
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.
annalise More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
katehasl More than 1 year ago
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.
SAMillerInIA More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
footballmom More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
mrsjdw More than 1 year ago
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.
Sensitivemuse More than 1 year ago
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.
Reviewqueen More than 1 year ago
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.
Teach1831 More than 1 year ago
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.
pagese More than 1 year ago
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.
mdk2003 More than 1 year ago
Book was quite good and would continue to read others books put out by this author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I more than enjoyed reading this and would recommend it to anyone who is looking to read something outside of the box.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I wanted to read this book due to the fact I grew up in the Salem/Beverly, Massachusetts area. I have always heard the stories of the Salem Witch trials. And have been to many of the surrounding areas. The mentioning of Gallows Hill was amazing to me since I know exactly where that is in Salem. The book was very descriptive & brought the history that has been around me to life. Definitely a must read for anyone who has ever lived in that area of Massachusetts.
tmannix on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Martha Carrier, the accused witch in this story is the grandmother (nine times back) of the author. So, although this book is fiction, you can see why Kathleen Kent is keen to retell the story of the Salem witch trials. A drawback is that we really all know the story (who hasn't read The Crucible in high school?). However, the story is told from the perspective of ten-year-old Sarah Carrier, daughter to Martha. So we get a young girl's view of the grim details of life in 17th century New England--the isolation, the hardships of farming, fears of Indian raids, the rigidity of religion, and, of course, the madness of crowd mentality. The starkest section of the book is Sarah's imprisonment (yes, ten-year-old girls were imprisoned) along with her three brothers and dozens of other accused witches. Pretty horrible. An interesting sidelight is the hint of something unusual about Sarah's father's past. This is revealed (although not entirely satisfactorily to my mind) at the end.
chmessing on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a novel, but based on the real-life story of the author's ancestor, Martha Carrier, one of the women hanged during the Salem Witch Trials. The story is told from the point of view of Martha's young daughter, Sarah, who was also brought to Salem as a witch. Interesting insights into the day-to-day life of a family living near Salem during that time. Heartbreaking when you remember that these events actually happened - and not even all that long ago.
LynnSigman on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Read and listened to - Mare Winningham was reader. Historial fiction of Salem Witch Trials - specifically Martha Carrier and her family - as told by 9 year old Sarah Carrier. Hard to get into - lots of detailed leadup, but eventually could see where it all fit.
kalky on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"The Heretic's Daughter" passed one of my tests for historical fiction -- it led me to want to learn more about the time the book covers. Kathleen Kent has done a wonderful job of turning exhaustive research into an engrossing and heart-wrenching story. It's so well done that it's difficult to believe this is the first book by the author. For me, the only two negatives were the overuse of foreshadowing in the first part of the book and the anticlimactic final pages. Neither was a huge distraction because of the fascinating characters and compelling storyline. I hate to use a cliche, but I honestly couldn't put this book down for the last third of it. Martha and Sarah Carrier are two characters who will stay with me for a long time, and they're all the more haunting for me because they were real. I look forward to reading anything else that Kathleen Kent writes.
myeclecticbooks on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Kathleen Kent¿s story although on the surface is one about the Salem witch trials¿is actually more a story about life in 17th century New England and familial relationships.The first half of the book builds slowly as we learn more about life in Puritan New England, its hardships and its joys, than we might expect. We not only learn about the difficulties that life in the 1600¿s brings but we experience them firsthand through the voice of Sarah our 9 year old narrator. When first her mother, then her brothers and finally she herself is accused, arrested, and taken to Salem jail¿the burden that she must carry to care for and protect what remains of her family is inconceivable for modern times.Perhaps even more intriguing and heartbreaking is what we learn of her relationships with her family and extended family (in particular that of her Mother and cousin) and how those relationships are tested and forged within the construct that is the Salem Witch Trials.If you are looking for a Halloween type retelling of the Trials then this is not the book for you¿but if you love Colonial history and books with themes of persecution, conviction, and love¿then I recommend The Heretic¿s Daughter.