The Heretic’s Daughter


Bibliographic Information 

Audiobook $4.99
Paperback $12.75
Hardback $26.99
Kindle $9.99
Associated ISBNs 9780316024488
9780316024495 — Paperback
9780316037532 — Hardcover
9781448732999 — Prebind
9780230704435 — Hardcover
9780330456302 — Paperback

Rating (VOYA)

4Q, 3P

This book is really well written, though slow at times.

This won’t appeal to everyone, and as a relatively well known title has probably been read by a lot of people.

Readers Annotation

Be drawn into the witch trials and struggle of living.


This is the story of Sarah and her family. Sarah is sent to live with her aunt and uncle while her family lives through the spread of small pox in Andover. She quickly becomes enamored with her aunt and cousin and wishes to stay with them. When her father comes to pick her up she doesn’t want to leave.

In comparison to her aunt’s home, Sarah thinks that her mother and father are very cold. The town is wary of her family and especially of her mother, whom some say can work magic. The other girls in town pick on Sarah. After her cousin unsuccessfully tries to burn down their barn, the family starts to hear rumors about the witch trials. Sarah’s mother Martha shares with her knowledge of her father and has her help bury the book on what he has done in a field.

Martha is arrested for being a witch. Before she is taken she tells Sarah to tell her siblings to confess to being a witch. The two older brothers are arrested next, and while they don’t confess to begin with, after the slower brother is tortured, they do. Then Sarah and her younger brother are arrested. They both confess and finger people who have already been arrested. They are thrown in jail.

The jail is appalling. The women and men are packed in, with barely any food, the jailor’s wife keeps trying to buy the clothes off their backs and buckets to use for waste. The children are afraid, but Sarah is able to talk to her mother in the condemned cell. Her brother gets sick and may need to lose his arm, but he gets better. Her mother is hung, and eventually the family is released.


I though that this was a good book. It wasn’t the most earth shattering experience I’ve ever had, but it drew me in and intrigued me. It was an interesting view on the witch trials in Salem. It gave the perspective of one who lived through the tragedy and survived. I think that most of the characters were well rounded. There were times where it wasn’t clear what motivated some of the characters, or why they did what they did, but those details might not have been important.

The setting was perfect. Kathleen Kent really brought life to the life that Sarah’s family lived and the disconcerting feel of the trials and jail. The setting, and the mood it provoked were the star of this book.

I think this is a great Historical novel that anyone interested in the time period or the witch trials would like. It has a lot of detail and feel for the time period.

It wasn’t my favorite book to read, but it was intriguing enough to keep me coming back. I thought that the beginning was a little slow, and that it was a little hard to get into. But really, it was just that I don’t find the witch trials and human suffering enjoyable to read about.


Historical Fiction


The Wolves of Andover by Kathleen Kent

Lois the Witch by Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell


This book shows a different side of the Salem Witch Trials. The main character is an outsider who gets drawn into the conflict, giving a first hand account of the experience. This character arc, and stark look at the lives of those accused, are what make this title unique.

Book Discussion Questions and Ideas

Should Martha have confessed to being a witch?

Discuss the reasons the witch trials happened.

How do you think this affected Sarah’s life?

Author’s website

Kathleen Kent’s website


David J. Langum, Sr. Prize in American Historical Fiction

School Library Journal’s Adult Books for High School Students: 2008


NY Times


Publisher’s Weekly

Why I Chose It

This was a required read, but it had an intriguing Salem Witch Trials tie in plot.

Other Information


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