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The Heretic's Daughter: A Novel
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Martha Carrier was one of the first women to be accused, tried and hanged as a witch in Salem, Massachusetts. Like her mother, young Sarah Carrier is bright and willful, openly challenging the small, brutal world in which they live. Often at odds with one another, mother and daughter are forced to stand together against the escalating hysteria of the trials and the superstitious tyranny that led to the torture and imprisonment of more than 200 people accused of witchcraft. This is the story of Martha's courageous defiance and ultimate death, as told by the daughter who survived.
Kathleen Kent is a tenth generation descendent of Martha Carrier. She paints a haunting portrait, not just of Puritan New England, but also of one family's deep and abiding love in the face of fear and persecution.

Customer Reviews:

  • Ran out of steam
    Having grown up in Massachusetts, I have had my fill of Salem lore. This book seemed very promising but I found it disappointing, primarily on two levels. First, the "local color" 17th century jargon in the novel's introduction was entirely abandoned in the main story. It certainly made for a more fluid (and someone more genuine-feeling) read but the supposed historical context with which the ancestor's introduction frames the rest of the text seemingly renders the story itself anachronistic because that "bygone" tone has disappeared. Secondly, I really found that the author ran out of steam towards the end: there is no other way to put it. ...more info
  • "I am my mother's daughter."
    In her debut novel, Kathleen Kent offers a unique perspective of the Salem Witch Trials: the story is told through the eyes of a child, ten-year-old Sarah Carrier, daughter of one of the accused.

    The Heretic's Daughter begins months before the Salem Witch Trials. The Carrier family has just moved to Andover, Massachusetts from Billerica, hoping to escape the outbreak of smallpox there. Unbeknownst to them, one of Sarah's older brothers, Andrew, is already infected. When Andrew becomes ill, Sarah and her younger sister Hannah are sent to live with their aunt and uncle, in the hopes that this will spare them from the disease.

    On her own for the first time in her life, Sarah quickly bonds with her cousin Margaret. The two girls become inseparable. Sarah also notices a stark contrast between her family life and that of her cousin. Compared to Margaret's family, Sarah's parents - especially her mother, Martha Carrier - seem cold and distant.

    When Sarah and Hannah finally return to their family, much has changed. Andrew has been ravaged by the disease, another family member has died from it, and many in the community are suspicious of the Carrier family. Sarah and her mother clash with each other frequently. Rumors begin to circulate about Martha Carrier, slowly at first but gaining strength as events in nearby Salem begin to incite mass hysteria.

    At first, Sarah resents her mother and feels that Martha's willfulness and pride are what have damaged their family's reputation in the community. But as the story progresses, and Martha Carrier is arrested for witchcraft, Sarah's attitude towards her mother softens. She begins to admire and love the qualities in her mother that she previously resented. Sarah's anguish over the fate she knows awaits her mother is palpable and heartbreaking.

    Kathleen Kent's prose is beautiful, frequently verging on poetic. One of my favorite passages is this description of Martha Carrier:

    "It was not defiance only that made me study her so, although our cat-and-mouse-games did become a kind of battle. It was also because she, with a deliberation bordering on the unseemly, set herself apart from what a woman should be and was as surprising as a flood or a brush fire. ... But Martha Carrier was like a deep pond, the surface of which was placid enough but deeply cold to the touch and which was filled beneath the surface with sharp rocks and treacherous choke roots."

    While Sarah's relationship with her mother is the driving force for the novel, I found the relationship between Sarah and her siblings to be very touching as well. When Sarah is about to leave to live with her aunt and uncle, she's given a handmade doll. Her departure came about so suddenly that the doll could not be finished before she left - it was missing buttons for eyes. One of Sarah's brothers rips the buttons from his shirt cuffs and runs after her so that Sarah will have eyes for her doll.

    The Heretic's Daughter is one of the best historical fiction novels I've read this year. Kent's narrative style is so refined that it's hard to believe this is her first novel. If you enjoy excellent, well-researched and compelling historical fiction, this is a must-read....more info
  • The Heretic's Daughter
    In The Heretic's Daughter, Kathleen Kent succeeds in humanizing a dark time in the history of our nation. We have all heard of the Salem Witch Trials, but never have I read a narrative that so strongly evokes the horrors experienced by those affected. Kathleen Kent is a descendant of the Carrier family whose trials are described in The Heretic's Daughter, which lends even more power to her novel.

    Many historical novels written in the style of the time in which they are set fail. The language feels stilted and unnatural and sometimes wavers back and forth between the present and the past. Kent, however, creates a believable dialect of the 1690s that further serves to connect reader and characters. This is a wonderful novel. It made me cry and feel for these characters in a way that few books do. If you are a fan of historical fiction, I highly recommend The Heretic's Daughter....more info
  • 3 and a half would be better
    Don't get me wrong, the historical detail was wonderfully told and the story of the Carrier's was incredible. I just found the book too slow for too long to keep me reading at a steady pace. The last 3rd was by far the best in the novel. I recently had a chance to meet this author and she is quite interesting and it's thrilling to know this is her first novel...only more good to come I suppose.
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  • Well written; left me wanting more!
    I loved the story and the way it was told. So much mystery was left untold about Sarah's father that left me wanting more from this author. Hopefully he will be the subject of her next novel....more info
  • The Heretic's Daughter
    I rarely come across books that catch my interest not only in ways of writing style and subject matter, but my historical interest as well. Most novels that are about the Salem Witch Trials often portray the views of the victims, or perhaps even the judges in some rare cases. However, this is the first I read that was written from the perspective of a child of one of the victims.

    Kathleen Kent definitely has control over her characters and the setting. She has successfully portrayed the Puritan times for what they were. The strict morals and the superstition are portrayed just as often as the need for friendship and for the fragile subject of love. A mother and daughter bond is shown when most novels failed to express the tightness of family. This novel goes beyond the trials, and beyond the hysteria, to the very heart of what caused the insanity behind this unfortunate time in history.

    I really couldn't put this book down for the life of me. It has a quick plot that surely is worth every moment of the time you spend on it. It is relatively easy to read and I recommend it for young readers and perhaps older ones, but it is surely for a younger audience who may not understand what had gone on during the time. ...more info
  • Very disappointed!
    I was so looking forward to this book and I have to say that I am very disappointed. The characters seemed flat and not real, especially the mother. I do not recommend this book - save yur money....more info
  • Enjoyable
    This isn't one of those books you sit down and read in one night. It's a book to be savored; something you sit with for a while. The story focuses on Sarah Carrier, who is ten years old and narrates the novel. Her family farms a small plot of land near Salem, and when the witchcraft hysteria breaks out, it sweeps them up as well. Rumors, betrayals, love, and kinship all play a part in this book, which I really enjoyed. ...more info
  • In A New Voice
    The subject has interested me since I was a little girl myself, a story well known. But "The Heretic's Daughter" relates the Salem witch trials fresh and new in young Sarah's voice, and the delicious, oppressive and frightening flavor of the times are brought to readers without flinching. Very well done....more info
  • If you like this ...
    This book was a good read, not a great read, a good read. I found the descriptions of the day to day activities of 17 century New Englanders as interesting as the story itself.
    I would strongly suggest if you found this story interesting you also get a copy of the dvd of "Three Sovereigns for Sarah" with Vanessa Redgrave. It does a good a job of showing the horrors of that period as anything I have seen or read. An excellent movie which is available on Amazon. I would not be surprised if Ms. Kent's book may have been to some degree inspired by that movie.
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  • Great Historical Data
    This is a great historical novel that gives a good picture of a terrible time in our history, told from the viewpoint of a 10 year old girl. I loved it!...more info
  • Tough story...
    Snap back into the past, take a trip on how life was back in the Salem witch trial days. Tough story. Makes you realize how easy we have it today. Also makes you reflect on how you would act and behave today verses yesteryear... ...more info
  • A gripping tale that transport you into Sarah Carrier's world
    This book was gripping and I was pulled into the craziness of Sarah's world in which anyone could be accused of being a witch. It was touching to see Sarah come to realize that behind their austerity both her mother and father loved her and would do anything to keep their children safe. Sarah's story made you feel as if you were there witnessing everything that happened to her family and I wanted to cry as her mother was taken to be hanged. It is also scary to think that entire villages could be caught up in such a hysteria in which they could accuse their neighbors including old men, women and young children of witchcraft and condemn them to death. I also came to care for each of Sarah's brothers and my heart would rise and fall with each obstacle presented in front on them. I think anyone reading this book will be transported into the lives of those who lived and died during the witch trials that began in Salem....more info
  • Life in the 1600s
    This is a good descriptive narrative of how hard life must have been in the late 1600s. Doesn't go into much detail of witch trials... but, the trials of life as it was are well researched and written....more info
  • America's scary past!
    What I love about a book right away is when they grab you the first couple of pages. The Heretic's Daughter certainly delivers that! Early America was a hard, grim place in the 1600's and Kathleen Kent describes it so accutely that you feel you are there. Although I knew about the witch trials in Salem from history classes, no way did I know how horrible they really were and to the extent the villagers would go (jailing children) to find out who the witches were. A great read and history lesson into early American history. I loved it....more info
  • A must read!...
    Kathleen Kent
    ISBN: 9780316024488
    Little Brown and company, 2008
    Reviewed by Debra Gaynor for , 2008
    5 Stars
    A must read!...
    Kathleen Kent draws on the store of her ancestors in this unforgettable novel. This tale will keep readers turning pages. Kent weaves fact and fiction into a frighteningly real drama.
    The Heretic's Daughter is narrated by ten year old Sarah Carrier. Her mother Martha has been accused of witch craft. Martha is stubborn, strong willed, and has a sharp tongue. She gains few friends with her cold exterior. While Kent deftly describes the events surrounding the Salem Witch Trials, this novel reaches below the surface and deals with family relationships. The life of the Puritan comes alive before the reader's eyes .
    When Sarah's brother contracts small pox, she is sent to stay with her aunt and uncle. Though relationships between the families are strained, Sarah finds she loves her aunt and uncle dearly. Martha clearly demonstrates that beneath the tough exterior lay a woman that truly loved her children. Sarah is forced to do something repulsive to save her own life. She pens a letter to her family in hopes that someday they will understand.
    In reading this book, I felt as thought I had been transported back in time. Kent paints a word picture of the trials and torture the people endured during the 1700s.
    ...more info
  • The Salem Witch Trials, From the View of a 10-Year-Old Accused Witch
    Sarah Carrier moved to Andover when she was just nine years old. They immediately became outcasts of sorts when it was discovered that they brought smallpox with them, and they were further ostracized due to their unwillingness to attend church services, her mothers sharp tongue and outspokenness, and her father's shadowed past. Still, they find their place, working the family farm and associating with neighbors. A year later, whispers are drifting over from nearby Salem about witches, and it is only a matter of time before the frenzy hits Andover. In this strict Puritan society, a woman like Martha Carrier, Sarah's mother, is immediately suspect, and it is not long before she is called out as a witch. It is only a matter of time before the suspicion spreads to her children as well. Martha adamantly refuses to confess to witchcraft, even though it will mean her eventual death. However, she begs her children to lie and say whatever they have to say, to confess to anything if it will mean life. Sarah and her three brothers confess, and after spending some time in the harsh Salem prison, they are eventually freed and allowed to resume their lives. Not too long after, the hysteria that has gripped the area dies down as the population slowly comes to their senses. Sarah lives, and the rest of her family lives, but they are all scarred by this dark time in history.

    This was a dark, bleak book. I didn't actually cry while reading it, but a few times I got lost in the story and read myself down into sadness and despair. Kathleen Kent is a fantastic storyteller; part of what makes "The Heretic's Daughter" such a gripping read is her family connection to Martha and Sarah Carrier. Combine family lore with extensive research and you have a realistic tale of the Salem witch trials, told from the point of view of a young girl who was imprisoned as a suspected witch. There were a few uplifting parts, like when Sarah finally realized that the reason her father didn't step in to help her more was because he wanted her to be strong enough to help herself. But the story was mostly dark, reflecting a dark, unpleasant time in history. I'll probably want to read this one again someday, but for now I just need something happy to pick up my mood....more info
  • Inside Salem Witch Trials
    I really enjoyed this book. The Salem Witch Trials are a dark part of American History. This book really puts you inside this period. You become part of the narrator and get to know what it was like to be accused of being a witch during this period. It is somewhat unthinkable that such a thing could have happened. Historical novels can sometimes be a bit boring, but this book kept me entertained throughout the entire book and I was definitely never bored. I think this would be a whole lot more educational and entertaining for high school students to read than the Crucible, which I remember reading in high school and my son is currently reading. Not that the Crucible was that bad, but this book was easier to read and hold my attention....more info
  • The Heretic's Daughter
    The Heretic's Daughter

    The Heretic's Daughter, Kathleen Kent's debut novel, is carefully crafted, sensitive and alive with swirling imagery. Kent bends her words lyrically, reaching for the reader's ear, gingerly toying with inevitabilities.

    Set in the Massachusetts Bay Colony and greater New England, spanning 100 years of tumultuous history, Kent weaves a story of Puritan subjugation, cruelty and survival. Kent's own history as a descendant of the unfortunate and brave Martha Carrier, a victim of the Salem Witch Trials, binds both the writer and reader to this tragic tale of religious intolerance, greed and the indisputable lust for power.

    The Salem Witch Trials continues to be one of the darkest chapters in American history. It is our collective story, one of the reasons why we have separation of church and state in the United States of America at present. Kathleen Kent's stirring novel reminds us to stay vigilant to inequity as citizens, to never loose our voice, whether independent or collective, and to work for the rights of those more unfortunate than ourselves.

    Don't miss this book, it is a must read for 2009!

    ...more info
  • Authentic and Entertaining
    The Salem witch trials are a fascinating, though shameful, piece of American history but I usually avoid novels set during this time because most writers either fall into the temptation to add a supernatural slant or give the protagonists a modern feminist outlook completely at odds with the mindset of 1692.

    Kathleen Kent avoids any such mistakes. This is neither ghost whispering or girl power but a fine serious novel.

    Her writing takes us into the period with unerring accuracy, both in historic details and the religious beliefs of the Puritan people. Her creation of atmosphere lets us feel the terror of the characters so that we watch, along with our young protagonist, from behind the skirts of the women as a community falls apart and respected adults are convicted and killed based on nothing more than the acting-out of a group of spiteful teenage gossips.

    I'm thrilled that this writer is young as I'm hoping for many more good novels from her. Dare I say it? She reminds me of the great Norah Lofts....more info
  • (4.5) "I am my mother's daughter too."

    Kent does a brilliant job of retelling a shameful period in American history, the Salem witch trials of the 1690s. The scorching account is related by Sarah Carrier Chapman, only nine years old when her family moves in with her grandmother in Andover, Massachusetts. Arriving in Andover with a case of the pox, the family is distrusted by the town from the first; the fact that Sarah's mother, Martha Carrier has an independent mind and disdains frivolity does little to endear her to fellow citizens. Young Sarah views her own mother as distant, uncaring even, the child's few emotional needs seemingly insignificant to a woman with many children and a busy household to run. But by the time the first rumors of witchcraft in Salem have reached the outlying regions, the countryside is riddled with paranoia, their narrow world feeding petty grievances and rumors among friends and acquaintances alike.

    A neighbor brings word that many have spoken against Sarah's mother, the family suddenly chilled with fear for the future: "It was the ending of a passage from the dark fog of infancy to the sharp remembrances of childhood." The days of daily toil appear halcyon in retrospect, the family anxiously awaiting a warrant that will seal Martha's fate. She does all she can to prepare her family for the trials to come: Martha has no intention of submitting to the hysteria of her judges, believing that someone must stand for truth against the insanity that has spread across the land like a fever. Taking her daughter aside, Martha instructs Sarah what she must do to protect the family, trusting her daughter to be the strong one, a test the girl survives with equal measure bitterness and heartbreak: "Life is... what you can bear to lose." In fact, it is through Sarah's account passed on to a granddaughter that the terrible past is revealed.

    Couching the Carrier family's fate in historical perspective, Kent mines the emotional territory of a childhood shorn of innocence, as well as the ongoing threats the settlers live with, Indian attacks, failing crops, a harsh winter and a growing fear that infects every aspect of their lives. Often there are property disputes at the heart of accusations, or jealousy, or ill feelings. Yet the result is devastating regardless of the causes, families torn apart, innocent victims hanged for witchcraft, the terrible power of young girls to point a finger and extinguish a life. In prose that builds with each egregious event, Sarah learns the hard lessons of those caught in this shameful history, a stark contrast between the cold beauty of the frozen countryside and the filthy cell where ragged women and children await their fate, echoed by the hollow laughter of the devil as innocents die for the lies of fools. Luan Gaines/ 2008.
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  • Family History Brought to Life...
    I just turned the last page.... Wow.... What a really, really good book!

    The Heretic's Daughter is a novel of the Salem Witch Trials. We have all heard of them, but Kathleen Kent has more than heard of them. She is a tenth generation descendant of Martha Carrier, who was hanged for a witch in Salem in 1692. Stories of Martha have been passed down through her mother's family for generations. Kent has taken fact and blended it with fictional license to tell the story of Martha, her husband Thomas and their five children.

    The book opens with Martha's daughter Sarah writing a letter to her granddaughter in 1752, finally revealing the secret she has guarded for sixty years. From this letter, we go back and relive Sarah's past.

    I'm not going to go into much more plot detail. Kathleen Kent spent five years researching and writing this book. Her attention to detail and descriptions of people, events and attitudes bring this terrible time in history alive on the page. I was moved by the love and fortitude of this family - I was crying my eyes out at the end.

    This was such a powerful debut novel. I can't wait to read her second.

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  • A story of one family's segregation and persecution during the horrendous and abysmal time of the Salem Witch Trials. BCM
    The Heretic's Daughter is a novel that I love! This work of historical fiction is a gift to the world. This story gives us such a candid and realistic taste of that terrible time in our world's history. The characters are detailed, convincing and written with great care. The story flows beautifully with ideal momentum.
    As I read this book, I felt so much anger towards all of the people who killed these innocent men, women and children. Dealing with a small pox epidemic, murderous raids from local Indian tribes as well as other hardships would have put strain on anyone, but I just felt so helpless and sad for Sarah, her family and the many other innocent people who died in this frenzied, fear-driven miasma. Friends and neighbours; even family members turning on one another for fear of their own lives or from greed and spite.
    Written from the daughter's perspective, this story pulls at your heart strings while steering clear of `fluffy' sentimentality. It vividly describes the hardships and difficulties of their lives and the affects these changes have on the Carrier family.
    I very highly recommend this book!!!

    (10 out of 10 Diamonds) - Absolutely LOVED it!!

    ? 2008-2009 Bobbie Crawford-McCoy (Book Reviews By Bobbie).
    All rights reserved.

    ...more info
  • Nice story
    It starts a little slow, but keep going. This is one of those stories in which the characters are the most important thing. I had it in an audio book, and was listening while driving. That isn't the best way to go through this story, it deserves a little more attention. However, it was still worth it....more info
  • Great Book - May Contain Minor Spoilers
    All in all this was a great, well though out, and researched book. The descriptions of the time period was interesting and the great character development allowed you a front row seat into a despicable time in our history.

    I am not giving it 5 stars because I felt the writing during the Carrier's time in prison did not carry the full impact and weight of the situation and the writing became redundant. Also, I would have been interested in hearing how the accusation of witchcraft would have followed Sarah in her life as an adult. Maybe a good sequel?

    I look forward to reading more books from Kathleen Kent.
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  • You thought you knew about the Salem witch trials?
    I had to give this book 5 stars. Well written, a page turner, but with real weight. The author is related to the main character and has done her research. A backgroud of smallpox, Native American raids and murderous retaliation, harsh winters and poor harvests, superstition, heavy levies by a society of so-called magistrates and clergymen interested in little besides power, religion gone off the rails. Of course I'd heard about the witch trials, but not the backgroud of the truly harsh life lived in Salem vicinity in the 1691-2. People who came to the new England for a better and freer life, more the horror of the reality they faced in this new England. An amazing achievement for a first novel! ...more info
  • An amazing perspective of the Salem Witch Trials through the eyes of the innocent
    The Heretic's Daughter is the kind of book a reader can't put down. It gives the very detailed and touching story of a family shunned from the community and of the horrible tortures that accused witches and their families struggled through. I became immersed in the horrific and very REAL world of 18th century New England where withcraft paranoia and betrayal ran loose: neighbors accusing neighbors, husbands accusing wives, daughters accusing mothers. I give this book 5 stars for the vivid pictures it painted of not just the setting, but the main characters' personalities and emotions....more info
  • Great Historical Novel
    We've all read stories of the Salem Witch Trials in history class, but this book is something so special and touching, I not only had a hard time putting it down, but also didn't want it to end. The story is told thru the eyes of 10 year old Sara Carrier, who doesn't like her mother very well and feels that her father is somewhat of a mystery man with strange ways and little to say.

    But as the story moves forward, it's a joy to watch Sara learn to admire and understand her mother and to understand her father. Although the dialogue between Sara and both her mother and father is somewhat limited, the words are perfectly spoken and will stay with the reader long after the book has been put away. To watch this love and respect that Sara discovers for her entire family brought me to tears.

    I highly recommend this book and look forward to more from this new, great author. Hopefully we can learn more about Sara's father in a future novel? I sure hope so!...more info
  • Enjoyed, Although Noticed An Incorrect Name
    I thought that the author's narrative style was quite good, as were the pacing and characterization; it kept me riveted straight through to the end. I noted that the main characters were actual ancestors of the author, and was left wondering what bits about her family (the mother's red book, for example) were actual events and which were created by the author and completely fictional.

    I've read many books about the Salem Village area witch trials, but this was the first I've seen that revealed in detail the horrific conditions of the jail that held the accused men, women, and children prisoner. It becomes easy now to see how some, such as five-year-old Dorcas Good, were made mentally ill by their prison experience for the rest of their lives.

    I did note one mistake: the book twice refers to torture victim Giles Corey as "Miles Corey." ...more info
  • A Different Point of View of the Salem Witch Trials
    The Heretic's Daughter is a work of fiction based on the actual family history of the author. Although I'm sure liberties were taken with regards to details and plot lines, for me, knowing that it was anchored in the reality of someone's family tree made it more interesting.

    This is not another story about The Salem Witch Trials -- it is the story of a family. The more notable persons from the trials such as Tituba, Ann Putnam Jr., or Abigail Williams are either resigned to a bit part or don't make an appearance at all. This, to me, makes the story more interesting and fresh.

    The novel moves along at a good clip, only bogging down briefly in one or two spots, and then not for long. It's a great story about coming of age during the Salem Witch Trials....more info
  • Great First Novel
    There are few books that keep me up at night. The Heretic's Daughter, by first-time novelist Kathleen Kent, was one of them. With none of the insecurity sometimes displayed by new authors who are unsure how to carry a long narrative, Kent effortlessly weaves the tale of a woman, Martha Carrier, and the fate suffered by her family during the Salem Witch Trials in 17th century Massachusetts.

    Told from the perspective of Martha's 10-year-old daughter, Sarah, the story is not about magic or spells, but is instead about one woman's courageous stand against tyranny, suspicion, and superstition in a time when such beliefs were considered an integral part of everyday life.

    I found that over the course of reading this book I didn't want to finish it. Not because I lost interest, but because I had become so emotionally invested in these characters that I wanted to somehow stave off their fate, all the while telling myself that I was being ridiculous. In our modern world of happy endings and tidily concluded book and movie plots, the knowledge that my favorite character would indeed die at the end, for no reason other than ignorance and malice, was actually hard for me to confront.

    The Heretic's Daughter is also about family, about the importance of loyalty, and of the timeless struggle of children to understand their parents. It's a point well-crafted by Kent, told through the story of Sarah's evolving relationship with her mother as she grows older and comes to understand the reasons behind her stoic demeanor. Ashamed and angry of her at the beginning, Sarah comes to not only comprehend her mother's actions, but to admire her, love her, and ultimately, carry her legacy with pride.

    Kathleen Kent has written a fine novel, certainly an impressive debut. It was one of those rare times when one finds not only a good story, but good storytelling. I'll certainly be on the lookout for her next effort.
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  • One Of the Best Books ...
    Let me be clear on this rating. I do not love this book. It is too soft of a word for what I feel for this book. This book is not cute nor is it lovable. It is thought-provoking and it is scary. It is also horrifying when one reads about the witchcraft trials that happened just over 400 years ago. It is sad. It is hopeful. It is innocence ripped away from a young child's eyes. It is everything that a serious reader wants to read about and it is inspirational in the sense that I want to read more about the Salem witchcraft trials just because how can a group of young women pull the wool over men's eyes? How can these judges condemn all these people to death just over a few women's silly patterings?

    Love this book? No. I like it very much that I want to have my two book clubs read it so I can discuss it with all of my heart because it is a worthy book of discussion. The storyline flowed seamlessly. Ms. Kent took one story out of her ancestors' lives and shaped a wonderful novel around the events that shaped the rest of the family's lineage. She took a young girl who was suddenly thrust into a world of confusion where madness seems to rule and how people lost their reasons. I am not quite sure how to explain this but it is a novel that every serious reader must read. It is about a young girl who was sent away temporarily to live with her mother's sister and her family while the family battled smallpox. When she returned home, Sarah found that everything has changed. Her beloved grandmother died during the illness and because the family brought smallpox with them as they moved into the grandmother's house, the townsfolk of Andover looked upon them with suspicion. Sarah's mother, a big woman who seems to be unfazed by people and her father, a tall man with a terrible reputation that proceeds him, just attract notorious attention to wherever they go. When the witchcraft trials started getting more attention, the local residents started to point fingers at Sarah's mother.

    This is a novel about a young girl forced to grow up wiser beyond her years. It is about a family torn apart by the accusations of neighbors and how they found each other again. It is about grief. It is about love between a parent and a child. It is about surviving. It is about how two parents fighting to keep their children alive even though one may lose life in the process. It is about friendship, family relations and greed, resentment and how dishonesty tears a town apart.

    I know next-to-nothing about the Salem witchcraft trials. After reading this novel, I am more intrigued with the whole situation because of all those innocent people being sent to death on a whim. How did that happen? Why did that happen? This book only served to make me more interested about a time period that I know nothing of. And in my opinion, this author has done a great job with her first novel. She has inspired me to read more on a subject I know nothing about. It is rare when I find an author who does that. So, Ms. Kent is on my list of inspirational authors. She has made her novel educational and at the same time, evoked emotions and thoughts that I didn't expect from this book.

    I recommend that if you're a history buff, this novel would be a great place to start. Even if you're not a history buff, this novel offers so many other things to ponder on. This is just a rare novel that offers so much for all readers to enjoy.

    10/20/08...more info