Book Review: The Heretic’s Daughter by Kathleen Kent

Title: The Heretic’s Daughter
Author: Kathleen Kent
Genre: Historical fiction
Publisher: Back Bay Books
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Source: Print copy from my own library
First line: The distance by wagon from Billerica to neighboring Andover is but nine miles.

Sarah Carrier, the title character, is a nine-year-old girl living in Puritan New England. It’s a time of disease, hard labor, superstition, and suspicion. She is the daughter of a strong-willed and sharp-tongued woman, Martha Carrier. Her father, a Welshman, fought with Cromwell in the English Civil War. There are rumors about his role in the execution of King Charles. Now, he just wants to be left alone to raise his family and carve a homestead out of the rugged and unforgiving New England landscape.

The Puritans are plagued with fears: Indian attack, diseases like smallpox, inclement weather that can destroy a year’s livelihood in the fields – and witchcraft. Sarah is raised against the backdrop of the Salem Witch Trials. Although Sarah and her family live outside Andover, the hysteria and accusations soon fly the bounds of Salem proper, and devastate everyone she cares about.

Kathleen Kent is a brilliant wordsmith, painting pictures with the words she chooses. Because the novel is in first person, I felt I became little Sarah Carrier as I read. I could see what she saw, smell what she smelled, feel what she felt. The most astonishing thing is that this is Kathleen Kent’s first novel. I highly recommend The Heretic’s Daughter to anyone who enjoys historical fiction.

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26 Responses to Book Review: The Heretic’s Daughter by Kathleen Kent

  1. Pam says:

    Ohhh this sounds so good Carrie!
    .-= Pam´s last blog ..Review: The Heart is Not a Size by Beth Kephart =-.

  2. I need to read this soon – it sounds fabulous!

  3. Beth F
    Twitter: BethFishReads
    says:

    THis has been on my wish list forever! I need to start digging through my TBR
    .-= Beth F´s last blog ..Wordless Wednesday 77 =-.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Beth – when I was at the bookstore on Tuesday, I kept seeing books and thinking – ooo, that looks so good, and I already have it! Need another ROOB, I think.

  4. Stephanie says:

    This one has been on my TBR list for FAR too long. It sounds like a great premise and has gotten great reviews thus far.
    .-= Stephanie´s last blog .. =-.

  5. Serena
    Twitter: SavvyVerseWit
    says:

    I won this book a while ago and really now want to read it! LOL
    .-= Serena´s last blog ..Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann =-.

  6. Jo-Jo says:

    I am so happy to see that you enjoyed this book. My book club just selected titles for our next year and we will be reading this one in October! Woohoo!
    .-= Jo-Jo´s last blog ..Current Giveaways!!! =-.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Jo-Jo – that’s a great pick for a book club – will spark good discussions, I think.

  7. softdrink says:

    This is a great example of historical fiction (and I love the cover). It was pretty grim in parts, but then, it was a grim time. She’s supposed to be writing a book about the father, and his life in England (if I remember correctly).
    .-= softdrink´s last blog ..NY Challenge – a winner and a final reminder =-.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Jill – Ooo, I hope so – I’d love to read more about that character.

  8. Melissa
    Twitter: avidreader12
    says:

    I really enjoyed this one too! I loved seeing the story unfold from the young girl’s point of view. She was so obliviously to some of the more sinister goings on, but that gave it an innocence that reminded me of To Kill a Mockingbird.

    Here’s my review… http://avidreader25.blogspot.com/2010/04/book-reviews_22.html
    .-= Melissa´s last blog ..April Monthly Summary =-.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Melissa – yes, I thought that was a good choice on the author’s part.

  9. I’ve been wanting to read this one and am so glad you liked it so much, Carrie. It sounds like such a good book!
    .-= Literary Feline´s last blog ..Review: The Killing of Mindi Quintana by Jeffrey A. Cohen =-.

  10. Robin of My Two Blessings
    Twitter: robnmccormack
    says:

    Another one for my wish list. Sounds good!
    .-= Robin of My Two Blessings´s last blog ..John Sandford Days of Prey blog Tour — Certain Prey =-.

  11. I read this when it first came out and really liked it!
    .-= Jen – Devourer of Books´s last blog ..The Devil’s Highway by Luis Alberto Urrea – Book Review =-.

  12. Alita says:

    I have this book waiting for my on my shelf, and you’ve made me so much more excited about reading it! I’m glad to hear it’s so fantastic.
    .-= Alita´s last blog ..Soundtrack Saturday – Anna Karenina =-.

  13. heidenkind says:

    I do have a fondness for books about Puritans…
    .-= heidenkind´s last blog ..Twilight: The Completely Unnecessary Graphic Novel Edition =-.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Tasha – have you read The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah Vowell? I’m reading it right now – very entertaining!

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