Shelf Control #343: The Heretic’s Daughter by Kathleen Kent

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Welcome to Shelf Control — an original feature created and hosted by Bookshelf Fantasies.

Shelf Control is a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves. Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up! For more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out my introductory post, here.

Want to join in? Shelf Control posts go up every Wednesday. See the guidelines at the bottom of the post, and jump on board!

Title: The Heretic’s Daughter
Author: Kathleen Kent
Published: 2008
Length: 332 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

Martha Carrier was one of the first women to be accused, tried and hanged as a witch in Salem, Massachusetts. Like her mother, young Sarah Carrier is bright and willful, openly challenging the small, brutal world in which they live. Often at odds with one another, mother and daughter are forced to stand together against the escalating hysteria of the trials and the superstitious tyranny that led to the torture and imprisonment of more than 200 people accused of witchcraft. This is the story of Martha’s courageous defiance and ultimate death, as told by the daughter who survived.

Kathleen Kent is a tenth generation descendant of Martha Carrier. She paints a haunting portrait, not just of Puritan New England, but also of one family’s deep and abiding love in the face of fear and persecution.

How and when I got it:

I have no idea! I’ve had a paperback edition on my shelf for many years now, but I’m not sure how I ended up with a copy. (Library sale is a likely suspect!)

Why I want to read it:

The subject of the Salem witch trials is an endlessly fascinating (and terribly tragic) topic to read about. Until I sat down to write this post, I didn’t realize that the author of this book is a descendant of the real-life person this historical novel is about.

While I’ve read several novels focused on the Puritan era and witch trials, this one sounds like it has a different perspective from what I’ve read so far, and I’m interested to see how the author presents this mother-daughter story.

What do you think? Would you read this book?

Please share your thoughts!


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Flashback Friday: The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane

ffbutton2Flashback Friday is a weekly tradition started here at Bookshelf Fantasies, focusing on showing some love for the older books in our lives and on our shelves. If you’d like to join in, just pick a book published at least five years ago, post your Flashback Friday pick on your blog, and let us all know about that special book from your reading past and why it matters to you. Don’t forget to link up!

My Flashback Friday pick this week:

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe
(published 2009)

This week’s book just barely makes the 5-year requirement for Flashback Friday!

Synopsis (Goodreads):

Harvard graduate student Connie Goodwin needs to spend her summer doing research for her doctoral dissertation. But when her mother asks her to handle the sale of Connie’s grandmother’s abandoned home near Salem, she can’t refuse. As she is drawn deeper into the mysteries of the family house, Connie discovers an ancient key within a seventeenth-century Bible. The key contains a yellowing fragment of parchment with a name written upon it: Deliverance Dane. This discovery launches Connie on a quest–to find out who this woman was and to unearth a rare artifact of singular power: a physick book, its pages a secret repository for lost knowledge.

As the pieces of Deliverance’s harrowing story begin to fall into place, Connie is haunted by visions of the long-ago witch trials, and she begins to fear that she is more tied to Salem’s dark past then she could have ever imagined.

Written with astonishing conviction and grace, The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane travels seamlessly between the witch trials of the 1690s and a modern woman’s story of mystery, intrigue, and revelation.

Katherine Howe’s first novel, The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, delivers in so many ways! In part, it’s the story of an intelligent woman pursuing an intellectual puzzle as she attempts to move her academic career forward. It’s also the story of this woman’s search for hidden truths about her family’s past. As Connie uncovers clue after clue, we see family history unfold in one generation of remarkable women after another — until the past finally collides with the present in shocking and unexpected ways.

I really enjoyed the balance of the historical and modern elements of the story, and the academic setting works well in combination with an exploration of mysterious forces and powers. Readers who were captivated by Deborah Harkness’s A Discovery of Witches may want to check out Deliverance Dane as well!

What flashback book is on your mind this week?

Note from your friendly Bookshelf Fantasies host: To join in the Flashback Friday fun:

  • Grab the Flashback Friday button
  • Post your own Flashback Friday entry on your blog (and mention Bookshelf Fantasies as the host of the meme, if you please!)
  • Leave your link in the comments below
  • Check out other FF posts… and discover some terrific hidden gems to add to your TBR piles!

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