Thursday, February 05, 2009
The Heretic's Daughter, by Kathleen Kent
The Heretic's Daughter chronicles the struggles of life in colonial Massachusetts: the backbreaking labor of farming, the terrors of smallpox, and the accusations of witchcraft from a superstitious community.
Sarah Carrier, 10, becomes aware of a land/house dispute between her mother Martha and her beloved uncle. An unpopularity within their small community, combined with Martha's unusual ways, sparks a cry of witchcraft, egged on by Sarah's uncle and cousin. Martha is jailed and put on trial, soon to be joined by Sarah and her three brothers.
The writing, first of all, is spectacular. Based on Kent's own family history, in which her grandmother nine generations back was hanged as a witch, Heretic's Daughter weaves despair and hope, bleakness and triumph. The mass amount of research put into this work is evident, but it doesn't bog down the story. It instead enriches the tale and helps create unforgettable characters.