Serendipity in the Stacks #34: The Heretic’s Daughter

I have to admit I am not one of those readers who keeps a copy of every book I’ve ever read. You only need to move a household ONCE to understand that weeding is a good thing.

So while browsing my own shelves and contemplating a future weekend full of biblio-purging, I found an historical novel that I enjoyed a great deal and recalled it’s a fine choice for book groups.

The Heretic’s Daughter is the first novel from Kathleen Kent. She has since written a follow up tale, a prequel, The Traitor’s Wife, about the characters that appear in her first book. One tidbit readers may find intriguing is that Kent is writing about her own family history, the Carriers.

The Heretic’s Daughter is a mother-daughter story set during the time of the Salem Witch Trials. Kent describes this terrifying historical period vividly, sparing no detail about the tenuous accusations, the appalling prison conditions, and the absurdities of the trials.

Readers will be swept along with the unfortunately accused in this swiftly paced novel. Martha, the accused matriarch of the Carrier family, is a realistically flawed character. Readers will sympathize with her situation and also feel frustration that she doesn’t do more to help herself or her family. Her daughter, Sarah, narrates the story looking back many years into the past, trying to make sense of her mother’s actions and her own father’s, Thomas Carrier, inactions.

There’s an intriguing twist to the end of The Heretic’s Daughter. Even though The Traitor’s Wife is a prequel, readers should start with The Heretic’s Daughter and move their way back. Both books would make for a lively pairing for a discussion.

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About the Author:

Kaite Mediatore Stover refuses to give up her day job as director of readers' services for The Kansas City Public Library to read tarot cards professionally or be the merch girl/roadie for her husband's numerous bands. Follow her on Twitter at @MarianLiberryan.

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