Book Review: The Heretic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent

Superstition--1. credulity regarding the supernatural. 2. an irrational fear of the unknown. 3. misdirected reverence. 4. a practice, opinion, or religion based on these tendencies. 5. a widely held but unjustified idea.
Oxford Pocket American Dictionary of Current English.

Blind belief, warped notion, fallacy, mare's nest; illusion, delusion, mote in the eye; prejudice, prepossession, fanaticism, irrational fear, belief in omens, obsession; myth, fable, old wives' tale. 
Synonym Finder by J. I. Rodale
Examination of a witch by T.H. Matteson 1853
For more historical information about the Salem Witch Trials:
Commentary of the trials:
More information:
Cotton Mather 1663-1728, A New England Puritan Minister that was influential in role of condemning and adding to hysteria. He was not repentant for his part in the Salem Witchcraft Trials.

For more information about The Heretic's Daughter:
The book begins in December 1690, Massachusetts. The Carrier family is moving from Billerica to another nearby town, Andover. Sarah Carrier is 9 years old. Her parents are Thomas and Martha Carrier. Their children are Richard, Andrew, Tom, Sarah, and young Hannah. They are moving in with Martha's mother, and Thomas Carrier would be "plying his trade as a farmer." The Carrier family is eyed with suspicion by the neighbors. As the story progresses the people of Andover treat the Carrier family as outsider's, not to be trusted. Puritan's were suspicious of any new person; would this person bring a sickness, would they be full of the devil? Minister's preached messages of the devil being everywhere and in wait to harm someone through a disease. This thought pattern gave birth to hysteria, which then produced the Salem Witchcraft Trials. There were 29 people convicted in 1692, 19 were hung, 1 elderly man was crushed to death by heavy stones. Those that were convicted professed their innocence. Many more were imprisoned, some were young children, most were women. The Heretic's Daughter is based on the authors family. She has taken the research and information she gleaned and then added fiction work to it. Martha Carrier the mother is a stoic, stern, resilient, strong-willed, prone to be quick-tempered, a quick biting verbal retort is always ready. She and her daughter Sarah maybe more alike than Sarah perceives as a young child. Both have many of the same personality qualities, because of this they clash. It seems the harder one pushed the harder the other one pushed back, metaphorically. Thomas Carrier the father is almost seven feet tall and of course towers over people, this must have been an intimidating feeling to his already suspicious neighbor's. He rarely speaks, his facial expressions are blank, yet I wondered as the story revealed itself would the love for his family break through the chiseled face. The family is beset by hardship immediately. I was amazed at the resilience of Martha and of her strength and determination. Sarah does not see these qualities in her mother.
The book was written with the primary intent of telling the story of the Carrier family during The Salem Witchcraft Trials. Yet, I was taken in immediately by this seemingly stoic family. Behind each of their unmoving faces is a dark sea of hidden emotions from life's hardships.
When I began reading The Heretic's Daughter I knew little about The Salem Witchcraft Trials. I'm not sure that I studied this historical period back when I was in public school. It is a dark and mysterious subject. Some are frightened by it. If they only knew that it was all brought on by ignorance and hysteria.
My heart ached for the innocent people, especially the aged and little children that were imprisoned, tortured, starved. It was a horrendous act that these men who stated they were Christian's did.
The Heretic's Daughter is not a horror story, some movies have presented The Salem Witchcraft Trials to be devilish and full of horror.
The story is not creepy, nor scary, nor suspenseful.
It is a sobering reminder that our Puritan ancestor's and I include my own ancestry were not the clean, homespun, Christ-like, reserved, pious people that have often been portrayed to be.
My maiden name is Hart, and on my mothers side there is the surname Morgan. Both go back to the mid 1600's in America. After reading this book I wondered if they in anyway were apart of The Salem Witchcraft Trials?

A second book is available in paperback:
The Traitor's Wife originally published as The Wolves of Andover

Published by Little Brown and Company Back Bay Books September 3, 2008
352 pages
Historical Non-Fiction/Salem Witch Trials/Puritan America

Link for book @ Amazon:
Paperback $10.98
Kindle $9.99

Blissful Reading!


  1. I loved this book! You really get a feel for how life was back then.


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