The Heretic’s Daughter is primarily the story of Martha and Sarah’s difficult mother-daughter relationship, set against the backdrop of the horrors of the Salem witch trials, arguably one of the worst periods of American history. Early on in the novel, Sarah describes her mother thus:
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. ... 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. And she had a tongue the sharpness of which would gut a man as quick as a Gloucester fisherman could clean a lamprey eel. (pp. 7-8)I loved the language in this book—it felt authentic without being overwrought or difficult to follow. I also loved the use of dreams throughout the book to illustrate Sarah’s state of mind. Finally, since I’m an amateur genealogist myself, I’m always curious to see how authors translate their family history into fiction. This novel paints a vivid portrait of life in Puritan New England in the late 17th century, but above all it is a tribute to Martha Carrier and her daughter: a moving story about courage and the power of love. I highly recommend it.
This was one of my favourite books in 2008.
Many other bloggers have reviewed this book. Here is a relatively random selection of reviews:
Alive on the Shelves • Books and Cooks • Boston Bibliophile • Kittling: Books • LibrarysCat Book List • Linus’s Blanket • Literary License • Presenting Lenore • Something She Wrote
For author interviews, visit these blogs: Everything Distils into Reading • Blog Talk Radio
Hachette has generously agreed to sponsor a giveaway of this book on my blog! Come back tomorrow for all the details.
Thank you to Tina at Bookshipper and Hachette for giving me this book to review.