bookcover-hereticsnewMartha 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.

THE HERETIC’S DAUGHTER was published in over a dozen countries.


Winner of the David J. Langum Sr. Award in American Historical Fiction 2008


“Gripping and evocative, THE HERETIC’S DAUGHTER is a powerful tale of a perilous time.”—People Magazine

“A powerful coming-of-age tale in which tragedy is trumped by an unsinkable faith in human nature.” – New York Times Book Review

“Kent’s moving story comes straight from her heart as well as the historical record…Kent tells a heart-wrenching story of family love and sacrifice.” – USA Today


“THE HERETIC’S DAUGHTER is raw, honest and completely captivating…” – Anita Shreve


“An illuminating literary debut.” – BookList Starred Review

“Highly recommended.” – Library Journal (starred review)

“Ms. Kent brings a gentle decency to her portrait of this nasty episode in American life.”—Dallas Morning News

“An authentically moving story that is as much about a mother and a daughter as the terror of the times.” – New York Daily News

“THE HERETIC’S DAUGHTER is haunting; unlike in seventeenth-century Salem, there is real magic at work here.” – Texas Monthly

“A family’s conflict becomes a battle for life or death in this gripping and original first novel…Sarah’s front row view of the trials and the mayhem that sweeps the close-knit community provides a fresh, bracing and unconventional take on a much covered episode.” – San Francisco Examiner

“[a] close look at family and village life, at the hearth and the harshness out of which the accusations of witchcraft grew… The misery behind bars reflects Kent’s rich imagination. She also shows the fruits of historical research in details that let you glimpse the past as it was lived, in the barn or field, at the inn or church. To this she adds descriptive gifts…. It goes on like that, wonderfully. I hope Kent does too.” – Bloomberg News


Buy the Book:
Buy from Amazon Buy from B&N Buy from BooksAMillion Buy from IndieBound Buy from Powell's



  • Thomas Carrier House, Colchester, CT

  • Thomas Carrier House, Colchester, CT

  • Thomas Carrier Tombstone, died 1735, aged 109 years

  • Martha Carrier Memorial Stone, Salem, MA

  • Author Kathleen Kent

  • Welcome reception for the Carrier descendants' reunion. Salem, MA, November 5, 2010

  • Carrier descendants from all over the US sign their names on the family tree.

  • Kathleen Kent talks to descendants about the history and research for THE TRAITOR'S WIFE. Salem, MA, November 6, 2010

  • Descendants gather to pay homage at the Martha Carrier Witch Trial Memorial. Salem, MA, November 6, 2010

  • The Red Book, where all the attending Carrier descendants signed their names.

  • Authors' Panel, First Church in Salem, MA. (From left to right: Elyssa East, Kathleen Kent, Brunonia Barry, Katherine Howe)

International Covers

11 Responses

  1. Janice Woods Stroh

    I just finished reading your book, “The Heretic’s Daughter”. My response was so emotional. Crying for the men and women who suffered so long for from the ignorance of persons in positions of authority. I’m overwhelmed. Thank you for opening my eyes to pain and suffering the likes of which I have never experienced.
    Janice Woods Stroh

  2. David Duff

    Thank you for such a fascinating and informative read. I’ve known for several years now that Martha Carrier and beyond were relations through some of the more popular family history websites. A DNA test through one of those has hooked me up with other cousins. But thank you for providing me more info about Great Grandpa Thomas. My relation is though Sarah’s older brother Richard and his daughter Remembrance (your book lent me a clue as to the possible why the name Remembrance). Bless you dear cousin, and to all of the others out there.

  3. Mary Kidder

    my maiden name is Ingalls so very interested as to if I am related. I’v heard that I am related to Charles Ingalls from Cuba,NY Is this also related to Martha Carrier?

  4. Bonnie Robillard

    I have DNA matching this lady!!! Wow, what a lady she was…. I am so pleased to hear about your book. I have just found out that I most likely descend from Richards brother Andrew 1677 and his descendant Louis Dumont Carrier 1856 Omaha. My grandfather is unknown. So it is nice to read of the history that could be mine. Thank you for this. Bonnie from Edmonton

  5. Cody Kayser

    Hi Kathleen:

    It appears that we, you and I, share the 9th great grandmother distinction with Martha Carrier. I have not read your book, yet, but the story of such a strong woman seems fascinating! My family comes through her child Richard. Best wishes to you~

  6. Carol Brockway Lieto

    Your book The Heretic’s Daughter was wonderful. I read it when it was first published and I plan to read it again. I am also a descendant of Martha Carrier. One of her grandchildren married a Brockway. Please contact me via e-mail if possible so I can see what our connections might be. I had heard the rumor that Thomas Carrier was the executioner of King Charles. I look forward to reading The Traitor’s Wife. I hope we can speak soon.


    • Kathleen Kent

      Thank you Carol for writing! I’m always thrilled to hear from fellow Carrier descendants. It’s amazing how many Carriers grew up with the tale of Thomas being one of the executioners of King Charles I of England. Of course, there may never be proof to this story, but it’s a fascinating part of our family history, and one I write about in The Traitor’s Wife. Best regards, KK

  7. Rebecca

    I picked up the book at a thrift store. I had never really read anything on the Salem trials before, but it sounded intriguing. I was horrified by what this men and women had to live through. I felt like crying through most of the story. I couldn’t wait to finish it, for no other reason than I wanted their struggle and the injustice to end. I don’t know that I have ever been so affected by a book before. The tale will stay with me long after this day.

    • Kathleen Kent

      Rebecca, Thank you so much for your response. Heretic’s Daughter was near and dear to my heart as it was story based on my Carrier family’s roots in New England. My second book, The Traitor’s Wife, answers some of the mysteries about Thomas Carrier and his experiences during the English Civil War and the events leading to the death of King Charles I of England. Best regards, KK

  8. Mary Kellerman

    Hi Just read your bk. as suggested by my book club not realizing that we not only visited the Witch Museum in Salem this past summer and saw names of Martha and Sarah Carrier as people suspected of being witches and that your book would be not only about them but also did not realize till I read the first sentence to see that your book actually starts out in Billerica which happens to be my place of residence for the last 40yrs! I really thought the story was spellbinding and well written as far as descriptions of New England land and weather. Look forward to reading more of your works:)

Leave a Reply