The heretic's daughter

Kathleen Kent, 1953-

Book - 2009

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 M...artha's courageous defiance and ultimate death, as told by the daughter who survived.

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FICTION/Kent, Kathleen
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Subjects
Published
New York : Little, Brown and Co 2009.
Edition
1st ed
Language
English
Physical Description
332 p.
ISBN
9780316024488
0316024481
Main Author
Kathleen Kent, 1953- (-)
Review by Booklist Reviews

Kent, a tenth-generation descendant of Martha Carrier (who was hanged as a witch in Salem in 1692), personalizes the witchcraft trials in this fictional account by Martha's daughter. Sarah Carrier was just nine years old when she and her three older brothers also were arrested for witchcraft, spending months imprisoned under horrific conditions while following their mother's dictum of admitting the charges against them to escape death. But Martha gave her life maintaining her innocence in the face of lying accusations that were fueled by her sharp tongue, her family's unknowingly bringing smallpox to Andover from their home in Billerica, family disputes (including tensions between a mother and her preadolescent daughter), and grudges between neighbors—all at a time when any negative event was thought to be the work of the devil in human form. Kent brings history to life in this vivid, sometimes wrenching account of a child and her family sustained by love through the hysteria of the time. An illuminating literary debut. Copyright 2006 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

For this debut, Kent goes back to her forebear Martha Carrier, who was hanged as a witch in 1600s Salem--but saved her daughter by convincing her to lie. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

History is more than facts and figures; it's something that happens to all of us. That's the thought that may strike readers of Kent's luminous first novel, set at the time of the Salem witch trials. In fact, Martha Carrier, Kent's grandmother back nine generations, was hanged as a witch in 1692. As portrayed here by her daughter, Sarah, Martha is a proud, stubborn, prickly woman, unbending in her beliefs and uninterested in public opinion. When Sarah returns to her family, having been sent away with a little sister because one of her brothers has the plague, she's not sure she wants to go back to her cold mother and dour, seven-foot father, who has some mysterious connection to Cromwell. But when malicious girls start pointing fingers, neighbor turns against neighbor, and Martha is told she will be arrested for witchcraft, she will not run, and she will not make a false confession. But Martha tells Sarah that when she is interrogated about her mother's activities, she must lie to save herself. Amidst the painful details of jail and persecution, deep-seated suspicion and familial betrayal, it is this powerful act of love that crowns the book. Highly recommended.—Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal [Page 61]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

A family's conflict becomes a battle for life and death in this gripping and original first novel based on family history from a descendant of a condemned Salem witch. After a bout of smallpox, 10-year-old Sarah Carrier resumes life with her mother on their family farm in Andover, Mass., dimly aware of a festering dispute between her mother, Martha, and her uncle about the plot of land where they live. The fight takes on a terrifying dimension when reports of supernatural activity in nearby Salem give way to mass hysteria, and Sarah's uncle is the first person to point the finger at Martha. Soon, neighbors struggling to eke out a living and a former indentured servant step forward to name Martha as the source of their woes. Sarah is forced to shoulder an even heavier burden as her mother and brothers are taken to prison to face a jury of young women who claim to have felt their bewitching presence. Sarah's front-row view of the trials and the mayhem that sweeps the close-knit community provides a fresh, bracing and unconventional take on a much-covered episode. (Sept.) [Page 160]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

Review by School Library Journal Reviews

Adult/High School— Told from the point of view of young Sarah, the daughter of one of the first women to be accused, tried, and hanged as a witch in Salem, this novel paints a vivid and disturbing picture of Puritan New England life. Based on fact and the author's family history, the story portrays Martha, Sarah's mother, as a strong-willed nonconformist who knows she is a target of the zealots who pit family members against one another with their false accusations. All but one of the siblings end up imprisoned with their mother, and much of the story is told from the inhumane and corruptly run jail. When Martha is finally executed, her husband "would stand for all of us so that when she closed her eyes for the last time, there would be a counterweight of love against the overflowing presence of vengeance and fear." History is brought to life as readers learn of the strength of Martha's convictions and the value she places on her conscience. They will also appreciate the themes of family love, repression, intolerance, and persecution in this beautifully written and compelling first novel.—Jane Ritter, Mill Valley School District, CA [Page 221]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

A witchcraft accusation in their Salem, Massachusetts, home further complicates the challenging relationship between Martha Carrier and her equally willful daughter, Sarah, who are forced to stand together against the escalating hysteria and superstition of the trials that are threatening Martha's life. A first novel.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

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.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

Young Sarah Carrier tries to cope with life in Salem, Massachusetts, after her mother, Martha Carrier, is accused, tried, and hanged as a witch.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

In 1752 Sarah Carrier Chapman, confined to her home and weak with infirmity, writes a letter to her granddaughter, revealing the secret she has guarded closely for six decades. It is a haunting account of the horrors that enveloped a New England town called Salem, and compelled Sarah, then just a young girl, to make a decision that, would change her life forever.A little more than a year before the witch trials will begin, Sarah and her family arrive in nearby Andover to face a community gripped by superstition and fear. With the increase in Indian raids and the spread of the plague, the Puritans come to believe that heretics in their midst are responsible for their misfortune. Based on the accusations of a dozen young girls, neighbor is pitted against neighbor, friend against friend, and the hysteria escalates, sweeping more than two hundred men, women, and children into prison on charges of witchcraft - Sarah's mother, Martha Carrier, among them.Often at odds with each other, mother and daughter must now stand defiantly together in the face of imprisonment, torture, and even death. Out of love for her children, Martha asks Sarah to commit an act of heresy - a lie that will most surely condemn Martha even as it will save her daughter.

Review by Publisher Summary 5

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.