Sunday, February 5, 2012
The Heretic's Daughter
by Kathleen Kent
Taking place in the late 1600's this is the story of a young girl's experience as her mother becomes a victim of the Salem witch hunts. The author is a descendant of the Carrier family portrayed in the book, although I don't know what her resources are for the story she writes.
The young Carrier girl is the older daughter in a family of sons and one younger sister. She finds her parents to be cold and distant and yearns for the gentleness and closeness she feels from her cousin's family or her grandmother. She spends her days helping the family on their farm doing chores appropriate for her age and helping care for her younger sister.
Much of the story describes her life and hardships up to the time her mother is tried and incarcerated as a witch. In the course of time she and her brothers are also sent to prison and required to testify against their mother.
I think the meat of this story is in the description of life at that time complicated by the church and clergy and the improbability of so many innocent people suddenly finding themselves accused of supernatural powers. There are no big surprises nor unexpected twists or turns. The telling of the trial and the hanging of Goodwife Carrier are all pretty much told from the perspective of a young child and not very in depth.
I found this book an enjoyable read and educational in its regard to American life in the 1600's, but somewhat disappointing. Only three shots of five from me.