The Heretic’s Daughter Kathleen Kent

Not sure why I jumped into this one. I don’t normally do American Historical Fiction (as a genre – don’t know enough about the place) and I don’t often do debut novels, but I’m glad I did with this one.

The novel is set in a time when there was no USA and North America was just a sub-branch of England. I also find it appealing when an author writes about their own family – Kent is the 10th grand-daughter of Martha Carrier, dubbed the Queen of Hell. Of course it is the Salem witch trials – although the Carrier family hail from nearby Andover. The novel is narrated by Martha’s daughter, Sarah and is very slow to start. The author gives us great detail of life in the village. While slow, I found it to be of great interest and it demonstrates how a community living in harsh conditions can come to great jealousy and petty resentments. And of course without those great entertainers television and tablets, what else is there to do but observe those around you in great detail.

About half way through, a combination of stupid young girls, over zealous preachers and a population looking to lay blame for the harshness of their conditions combine to give us the trials. The author doesn’t dwell on the trials themselves – just enough to show us the stupidity – but does give us a lot of detail about the conditions of the prisoners. It’s way beyond a tough life in jail.

Perhaps overall, it’s a coming of age story of discovery about parents, siblings, relatives and friends.

It is very well written – give it a go.

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