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 descendent 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.
This was a book I was so excited to get into. I had heard so many good things about it and the topic of the Salem Witch Trials was one I was interested in knowing more about. It surprised me when I struggled through the first half of the book. It was heavily filled with information about life in the 1600’s. The action and information about the trials took so long to get to that I found myself wanting to put the book down and be done with it.
Once I made it through the first half and the information started to come out about Martha Carrier the book picked up significantly. I was shocked and saddened how the trials came to be. The evidence, or lack there of… really drove the story home for me. The women that died during this trial was heartbreaking and the knowledge I was hoping to gain from this book about the trials was slow coming, but eventually made its appearance.
The Salem Witch Trials prior to this book were just something I had heard of but I really had no idea. What a sad time in our history.
Calling her a “rampant hag” and the “Queen of Hell,” the Reverend Cotton Mather harbored no doubts that Martha Carrier deserved to be executed as a witch during the Salem outbreak on August 19, 1692. The Salem documents themselves, however, reveal that her crime was not witchcraft but an independence of mind and an unsubmissive character. A daughter of one of the founding families of Andover, Martha married a young Welsh servant, Thomas Carrier, in 1674, by whom she had four children. The Salem accusation against Martha came only two years after the selectmen of Andover blamed a smallpox epidemic on her witchcraft. Although historians have blamed her accusation on causes ranging from a conspiracy against Andover’s proprietary families to reaction against threats to patriarchal inheritance, her contentious spirit and the earlier charge of witchcraft seem the most plausible explanation.
My book club reviewed this book for our January selection. At the time of the review I had not finished the book having struggled with the first half. After listening to the Bookies talk about what was yet to come in the book and how much they had learned about the Salem Witch Trials I went home form the meeting and finished the book. They were right the second half of the book did pick up and got to the meet of the story that I was hoping for. Over all our book club found this book to be an average read scoring a 3.4 on our scale of 1 – 5.
This book is counted in the following Challenges:
This review copy was sent to me from Hachette Book Group