The Heretic’s Daughter
The year is 1692, two hundred years after Columbus discovered America, and the developing country has degenerated into an enclosed, brutal world. In Salem, Massachusetts, men and women are hanged denying they are witches.
Sarah Carrier is nine years old when her family moves to her maternal grandmother’s homestead for a better life. Unbeknownst to them, smallpox accompanies their journey, and they and others soon fall victim to the plague. Sarah and her baby sister are sent in secret to their aunt to escape the disease and discover a love and affection they have never experienced.
In her first novel, The Heretic’s Daughter, Kathleen Kent has based her story on family genealogy, being a tenth-generation descendant in direct line from Sarah. Tracing events and characters from historical documents and bringing them once again into existence relies on accurate research and vivid, imaginative writing, particularly when the protagonists share ties of blood. Ms Kent has brought a period and place to life with skill.
The first half of the story is slow paced, elegantly descriptive but lacks tension, and the pages do not turn fast enough. However, when the Salem witch trials commence, the suspense gains momentum and makes for compulsive reading. The harrowing accounts of the indignities inflicted upon the prisoners, including children, illuminate the author’s deep feeling of involvement.
The reader carries away from the book a sense of recaptured lives echoing down the centuries.