The Heretic's Daughter will have to be rated one of my best reads of 2008 - it probably would have been number one if I had not read The Book Thief this year also.
This book just had me mesmerised and hooked from the very beginning. The writing is simply stunning - what I would give for a gift like this! And although the story is captivating it never feels like the telling is being rushed - you arrive at the ending just when you need to get there and not a moment before.
The Heretic's Daughter tells the story of the Salem witch hunts of the 1690's from the perspective of the Carrier family and in particular the eldest daughter of the family, Sarah. The author is actually a descendent of this particular family and she grew up hearing the stories of her strong female relatives who were persecuted by the intolerant, fearful and ignorant religious community of the time. This family connection might possibly be what helps this story come to life - you certainly feel as though the author has a stake in the telling of this story.
The voice of Sarah is extremely strong and, to me, rings very true - you feel for this young girl, her passions, her weaknesses and her fears. I think this is what makes the book and the narrative so strong - for me at least - you want to hear what Sarah has to say about her and her family's experiences.
An absolutely stunning book - I can't recommend it highly enough.