Friday, October 28, 2011

Review #15: The Heretic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent

I will fully admit that I am a huge history buff. I tend to get obsessed with certain periods of history and read as many books (mostly historical fiction, but some biography/non-fiction stuff as well) as I can find about them. One of these is the Salem Witch Trials. I've read dozens of books about the trials, both children's lit (I cannot recommend The Witch of Blackbird Pond more highly to young readers--and old, too!) and adult books (The Crucible is a favorite). So I was really excited to read The Heretic's Daughter.

Maybe it's just because I've read so many good books about the trials, but this book was a little disappointing. It tells the story of Sarah, a young girl growing up in 17th century Andover, Massachusetts. Rumors begin to fly about supposed supernatural activity occurring in Salem, the neighboring town, and Sarah's mother--a non-conforming, stubborn woman--is eventually accused of being a witch.

One thing I really enjoyed about this book is that it's about real people. Martha Currier, Sarah's mother, was actually one of Kent's ancestors, and so the book has a sense of purpose beyond simply recounting a well-known historical event. 

The book does a wonderful job of portraying the trials through the eyes of a child, capturing the confusion and the terror and the paranoia of the experience. Sarah's innocence highlights the insanity of the actions of those around her, and works very well. Unfortunately, I never seemed to warm up to her, or any of the other characters. I'm not sure what it was, since the book is very well-written, but I felt like the characters were a bit flat and unoriginal.

For that reason, the book is a little forgettable. The writing is beautiful and the attention to detail the author clearly worked hard on is admirable, and so I would still recommend this book for die-hard Puritan history buffs. However, there are definitely better representations of the trials out there.

No comments:

Post a Comment