Book Review – The Heretic’s Daughter by Kathleen Kent

The Heretic’s Daughter by Kathleen Kent

The Heretic’s Daughter: A Novel

In the summer of 1692 in Salem, MA, 14 women and 5 men were hung as witches and many more were incarcerated in ghastly and inhumane prisons.  It was a shameful time in American history, when the accused were guilty until proven innocent (and how do you prove that you are NOT a witch?)  and confession was obtained by torture (ok, that has been a consistent method for all time).  The words of disgruntled neighbors and hysterical teenage girls were considered evidence.  It was a fearful and difficult time for the Puritan colonists, with the constant threat of Native American raids and poor harvests ranking only slightly lower in importance than terror of a vengeful God and a spiteful Devil.  Mass hysteria ruled for less than a year, and is nearly incomprehensible to us today.  Kathleen Kent is the descendant of Martha Carrier, one of the women excommunicated from the Church and hung as a witch (later remanded) and has written a powerful, terrifying fictionalized account of the trials, displaying the inexorable move from suspicion to accusation to execution.

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