The Heretics Daughter by Kathleen Kent is a novel about the relationships between women set during the Witchcraft Trials of Salem.
Martha Carrier was hanged
on August 19th, 1692 in Salem, Massachusetts, unyielding in her refusal
to admit to being a witch, going to her death rather than joining the
ranks of men and women who confessed and were thereby spared execution.
Like her mother, young Sarah Carrier is bright and wilful, openly
challenging the small, brutal world in which they live. In this
startling novel, she narrates the story of her early life in Andover,
near Salem. Her father is a farmer, English in origin, quietly stoical
but with a secret history. Her mother is a herbalist, tough but loving,
and above all a good mother. Often at odds with each other, Sarah and
her mother have a close but also cold relationship, yet it is clear that
Martha understands her daughter like no other. When Martha is accused
of witchcraft, and the whisperings in the community escalate, she makes
her daughter promise not to stand up for her if the case is taken to
court. As Sarah and her brothers are hauled into the prison themselves,
the vicious cruelty of the trials is apparent, as the Carrier family,
along with other innocents, are starved and deprived of any decency,
battling their way through the hysteria with the sheer willpower their
mother has taught them.
I picked this up because it was on sale, and I’m glad I did.