Sunday, November 16, 2008

The HERetic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent

Title: The Heretic's Daughter
Author: Kathleen Kent
ISBN: 9780316024488
Publisher: Little Brown/2008
Pages: 331
Rating: 5/5

I read this a while back. It had such an impact in my mind that I couldn't write a review right away. Kathleen Kent has written that part of history, which makes us uneasy. Which we want to wish away or simply not remember. But it happened and we ought to remember it so as not to repeat anything like this. Or prevent it if we can.

Writing about witch trials is not easy. Kathleen has handled it with sensitivity. The book starts with Sarah writing a letter to her grand daughter telling her of a family secret, where she accounts the witch trials in a New England town, Salem. Sarah's mother Martha Carrier, asks her to tell a lie in order to save her family. And Sarah does so.

Here we see mass hysteria, where a few girls could accuse another female of witchcraft and condemn her for life. Any one wanting to settle a score could do that. And this resulted in the deaths of hundreds of men, women and children. Superstition and fear ruled and many took advantage of it to jail their enemies.

This book speaks of a woman's courage in the face of adversity. It speaks of a family, which sticks together no matter what even after facing indignity, torture, and death.

This book touched me because there have been cases of woman taken for witches and killed in a few parts of India even now. This has more to do with property rights than anything else. Declare a woman as a witch, get her killed and acquire her property. Mostly females who speak their minds are condemned thus.

BTW, Kathleen Kent is a direct descendent of Martha Carrier.