Guest Author - Casey Manes
In The Heretic's Daughter, by debut author Kathleen Kent, intrigue abounds.
To this day, no one really knows for certain what caused the Salem Witch Trials. But in 1692, Puritan tyranny had sentenced more than 150 people to their death. Most of these victims were women, but some were men.
The Heretic's Daughter is based on the actual historical event of the Salem Witch Trials, but with fictionalized characters and circumstances. The story centers on one family trapped in the turbulent hysterics that coined the term, "a witch hunt."
The story highlights the realities of pioneer colonial life. Dangers lurk behind every corner, raids by Indians, death by disease or the risk of starvation, cold winters, being ostracized by neighbors and gossip.
The Carrier family is depicted in this story as a normal family in that they are not always as polite to one another as they should be, and trying to watch out for their own through the hardships of life.
In the story, small pox is taking their village by storm. Determined to leave town and outrun the epidemic, they endure the trek to a neighboring town. They believe they will be able to escape the deadly illness, but they cannot. Trouble brews.
The family is then seen as bringing the small pox to this new town, and they find themselves in a battle for their lives against the accusations of the townspeople. Soon, mother and wife Martha is charged with witchcraft and taken from her family. She is brought to Salem for the trial of her life, for her life.
Her family can only watch helplessly as the superstitions, fears and jealousy of others wreaks havoc on their lives.
The interesting twist is author Kathleen Kent is related to the Carrier family, hence she makes them the main characters in the web she weaves detailing possible causes of the trials and what led up to its inception.
The story is interesting and well told, and if you like history, there's plenty of it in here, though no one can be sure of all the facts associated with the madness of all that happened in Salem in the 1600s.
There are lessons to be had in this book, however. The Carrier family's story is one of redemption, but they do have to learn the difficult life lesson of it isn't when someone you love is taken away from you, that you truly remember to value your loved ones.
Book Club idea: Read this book with friends or alone and then discuss. End the night with a viewing of the movie, The Crucible. Darken the lights, and have a spooky Salem Witch Trial night!