Kirkus Reviews QR Code
THE MINISTER’S DAUGHTER by Julie Hearn Kirkus Star


by Julie Hearn

Pub Date: June 1st, 2005
ISBN: 0-689-87690-4
Publisher: Atheneum

The year is 1645, and Nell, the village “cunning woman’s” granddaughter, has been learning the healer’s trade, desperately hoping to conceal her grandmother’s increasing senility until she is able to take her place. At one margin of her world lurk the piskies and fairies that represent the old ways she follows; at the other, the forces of modernization in the forms of the Puritan minister and the English Civil War. The spikily independent Nell’s conscientiousness brings her into contact and conflict with the minister’s daughters: Grace, unmarried and pregnant, and Patience, her simple sister, whose imperfect apprehension of the tensions swirling around her form an eerie counter narrative, taken down during the 1692 witch panic of Salem Village. Hearn develops each character with exquisite care, the month-by-month narration ratcheting up the tension as Grace’s belly swells and the minister casts about for scapegoats. Even though Patience’s retrospective account, appearing as it does in the chapter breaks, lends an air of dreary inevitability, the old Powers have a way of enforcing their own rules. The result is twinned endings, one eminently satisfying, the other satisfyingly unsettling. Tremendous. (Fiction. YA)