ceciliah, January 20, 2012 (view all comments by ceciliah)
"The Heretic's Daughter" by Kathleen Kent has been the most moving yet accurately portrayed fictional account of the Salem Witch Trials I've ever read. I was sadly crying and working my way through quite a few tissues before reaching the last sentence. Not only does this story tell of the audacious stupidity of one group of people believing themselves so righteous and pious they could point a finger and accuse a friend or neighbor of practicing witchcraft (for a normal occurrence in those days as a cow becoming sick and dying) but Ms. Kent’s tale also shows the depth of a mother's love for her children in giving up everything for their survival.
Like Kathleen, I also had an ancestor tried for witchcraft, not in Salem but Hartford, CT in 1657-58 and have read the transcripts of her trial. "The Heretic's Daughter" made me see, feel and smell the horror my ancestor must have felt...a scary, sickening, hopeless feeling. Fortunately for me, she was acquitted. Ms. Kent has the ability to pluck her reader out their comfortable 21st century armchair and deliver them to a crowded stuffy 1692 jail cell with little food or water and filthy straw for living quarters.
I anxiously awaited Kathleen Kent’s next book, "The Wolves of Andover", about Martha Allen Carrier’s husband, Thomas. In “The Heretic’s Daughter”, Thomas has a veiled past that the author hints at but is never fully revealed. The prequel, “The Wolves of Andover” is on my 'to-read' list and I know I won’t be disappointed. I have recommended over and over “The Heretic’s Daughter” to anyone wanting a great historical read but be prepared for a late night (you won’t want to stop reading this book once you start it) and lay in an ample supply of tissue.
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Gracie, January 29, 2011 (view all comments by Gracie)
I truly had a hard time putting this book down once I started it. And I don't usually go for historical fiction, as it tends to be too much fiction and too little history. But Kathleen Kent stays well within the bounds of history while bringing to life vivid characters—her own ancestors, in fact—as they struggled with horrific circumstances. Her voice is historical in tone without affectation, and the narrative flows smoothly through the 1690s approaching those ignominious days with a sense of i...moreI truly had a hard time putting this book down once I started it. And I don't usually go for historical fiction, as it tends to be too much fiction and too little history. But Kathleen Kent stays well within the bounds of history while bringing to life vivid characters—her own ancestors, in fact—as they struggled with horrific circumstances. Her voice is historical in tone without affectation, and the narrative flows smoothly through the 1690s approaching those ignominious days with a sense of inevitability that lends an appropriate tinge of melancholy to the story.
The narrator, Sarah Carrier, brings the reader along on an account of the Salem witch trials that shows just how easily such a thing can happen and just how little—and how much—the truth means. The mass hysteria surrounding the trials shapes Sarah's young life and the life of her family in heartrending and profound ways starting with the arrest of Sarah's mother; the Carriers are met with anger, suspicion, fear, accusation, separation, imprisonment, sickness, and death before the story is done.
How they face those trials is what gives the story its heart and meaning, much the way John Proctor's actions make The Crucible the story that it is. And Sarah tells her story with simplicity and honesty, opening the painful wounds of her childhood experiences. All the anger, misery, and guilt she carries; all the resignation and love she finds; and all the strength she sees in herself and her family are there.
People will ask those who have lived beyond terrible trials, "How did you come to get beyond your loss?" as though the survivor who suffered the loss should simply stop up their nose until breath is starved from the lungs. It is true that some people will lose their desire for life and refuse food and drink after the death of a beloved, or if there is too much pain and injury to the body. But a child, so recently come into the world from the void of creation, can be more resilient than the strongest man, more strong willed than the hardiest woman.
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y.paralaventa, January 28, 2011 (view all comments by y.paralaventa)
Utterly compelling. The details of daily life, and description of Colonial America are unforgettable. Makes you wonder if we went back to Colonial prisons if crime and prison overcrowding might be reduced. Ugh!
Shari from Lake Forest, January 12, 2011 (view all comments by Shari from Lake Forest)
This story is beautifully told from the point of view of young Sarah Carrier. She is a resourceful and sensitive child, so like any bright modern youngster, and yet one who lives through the terrible Salem witch trials. Sarah is victim and survivor, witness and recorder.
Her story resonated with me because though it happened hundreds of years ago, the mood of accusation and hysteria exists again today. This book will remind you how manipulative a controlled society can be, whether in Puritan Massachusetts in the 1600's or today on any website where a bigot can point an accusing finger and not be held accountable for false claims. It is a stick to your ribs and bind your heart tale, filled with poetic images of a time and place when every innocent but hard-toiled act to care for one's family could be interpreted as one guided by witches. You'll remember Sarah and her family long after you've finished the book.
Back Bay Books -
Kathleen Kent plumbs her own ancestry to give us this excellent book. Martha Carrier and her daughter Sarah are caught in the web of hysteria and madness that becomes the disgraceful Salem witch trials. Heart-wrenching and unsettling, The Heretic's Daughter is a powerful look at a disturbing chapter in American history. I loved it.
Based on her own family's history, Kent tells the story of Martha Carrier, who was one of the first women to be hanged as a witch in Salem, Massachusetts. In this novel, Kent paints a haunting portrait of one family's deep and abiding love in the face of fear and persecution.
The third book in the internationally bestselling Hangman's Daughter series takes readers to the imperial city of Regensburg, where the hangman has been accused of murder.
It is the year 1666. The physician Simon and his wife, Magdalena, the hangmans daughter, set out from their home in Schongau, southern Bavaria, to make a pilgrimage to Andechs Abbey. Once there, Simon meets the mysterious Brother Virgilius, a watchmaker and inventor. Simon is fascinated by the eerie automata Virgilius has created. When the monk disappears and his workshop is destroyed, Simon senses there is evil at work and calls in Jakob Kuisl, the hangman of Schongau. Together they embark on a quest - to find a maniacal murderer . . .
Set in the mid-1600s in the Bavarian town of Schongau, a hangman, Jakob Kuisl, is asked to find out whether an ominous tattoo found on a dying boy means that witchcraft has come to town.
1666: The monastery at Andechs has long been a pilgrimage destination, but when the hangmans daughter, Magdalena, her doctor husband Simon, and their two small children arrive there, they learn that the monks have far larger concerns than saying Mass and receiving alms. It seems that once again, the hangmans family has fallen into a mysterious and dangerous adventure.
Two monks at the monastery experiment with cutting-edge technology, including a method of deflecting the lightning that has previously set the monastery ablaze. When one of the monks disappears and his lab is destroyed, foul play is suspected. Who better to investigate than the famed hangman, Jakob Kuisl? But as the hangman and his family attempt to solve the mystery of the missing monk, they must deal with both the eccentric denizens of the monastery and villagers who view the monks inventions as witchcraft that must be destroyed at all costs.
This thrilling fourth entry of The Hangmans Daughter series features scheming monks, murderous robots, and the action and intrigue that never seem to cease when the Kuisls are on a case.
The third installment of the international best-selling Hangmans Daughter series
1662: Jakob Kuisl, the hangman of a village in the Alps, receives a letter from his sister calling him to the imperial city of Regensburg, where a gruesome sight awaits him: her throat has been slit. When the city constable discovers Kuisl alongside the corpse she locks him in a dungeon, where Kuisl will experience first-hand the torture hes administered himself for years. As nightmares assail him, Kuisl can only hope to prevail on the Regensburg executioner to show mercy to a fellow hangman.
Kuisls steely daughter, Magdalena, and her young doctor paramour, Simon, rush to Regensburg and try to save Jakob, enlisting an underground network of beggars, a beer-brewing monk, and an Italian playboy for help. Navigating the labyrinthine city, they learn there is much more behind the false accusation than a personal vendetta: there is a plan that will endanger the entire German Empire.
Chock-full of fascinating historical detail, The Beggar King brings to vibrant life another tremendous tale of an unlikely hangman and his tough-as-nails daughter, confirming Pötzschs mettle as a storyteller at the height of his powers.
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