Monday, October 20, 2014

Review: The Minister's Daughter - Julie Hearn

The Minister's Daughter by Julie Hearn
Genre: YA, historical fantasy
Published on May 17, 2005
Published by Atheneum Books
Pages: 268
Read From: 9.21.14 - 9.24.14

Conceived on May Morning, Nell is claimed by the pixies and faeries as a merrybegot, one of their own. She is a wild child: herb gatherer and healer, spell-weaver and midwife. . . .and, some say, a witch. 
Grace is everything Nell is not. She is the Puritan minister's daughter: beautiful and refined, innocent and sweet-natured. . . .to those who think they know her. But she is hiding a secret - a secret that will bring everlasting shame to her family should it ever come to light. 
A merrybegot and a minster's daughter - two girls who could not have less in common. Yet their fates collide when Grace and her younger sister, Patience, are suddenly spitting pins, struck with fits, and speaking in fevered tongues. The minister is convinced his daughters are the victims of witchcraft. And all signs point to Nell as the source of the trouble. . . .


Cover Blurb: Yes or No? I'm not a huge fan of the cover, nor do I hate it. It's just. . . .there. Neither offending nor delighting.

Characters: Nell is spunky and smart and doesn't put up with any sort of nonsense. Not from the people she cares about, her patients, or anyone who means her ill in the village. She was awesome. Grace was conniving, horrid girl; very easy to dislike. But I will give her props for one thing (though her later actions negated my very brief moment of sympathy): she didn't think once about killing her child until the father suggested it. When she got desperate, though, naturally it didn't seem like such a bad idea. That's when my sympathy evaporated. I felt sorry for Patience, her little sister who was caught in the middle of it all. Patience didn't know what was going on or what to do.

The Romance: There isn't any!

Plot: Nell is the granddaughter of the local cunningwoman - and also a Merrybegot; a child conceived on May Morning and therefore loved and blessed by the pixies and Fair Folk. Grace is the eldest daughter of the local Puritan preacher, and not as innocent as she seems. When Grace and her little sister Patience start to show signs of being devil-possessed, fingers begin pointing around the village. And the granddaughter of a cunningwoman - a Merrybegot - is the perfect target for everyone's blame and fears. There isn't a whole lot to this relatively short book. And this is, therefore, going to be a pretty short, patched little review. Stories of witch hunters have, like many others, always interested me - especially when you consider that it wasn't as wide-spread as most people believe. What was most interesting about The Minister's Daughter is that it's actually historical fantasy - something that threw me for the first few pages. It starts out as a pretty typical historical fiction, with the expected ambiance, and suddenly there's real pixies and faeries and charms. Once you get used to it, though, it's actually really awesome. The plot is pretty fast-paced, given the length of the novel, and enjoyable.

Believability: No complaints.

Writing Style: Third person, present tense - and first person, past tense. Each chapter begins with Patience's confession. In later years, she confesses to several community leaders what she and her sister did. The rest of the chapters are told in third person, present tense. I didn't mind the present tense too much, and the style was very fitting for the time period - especially the dialogue.

Content: None.

Conclusion: My biggest complaint with The Minister's Daughter is that there wasn't enough to it. And the end was very tidy. It fit the story, so it didn't bother me as much as tidy endings usually do, but I still wish there had just been more to the story. Overall, though, it was an enjoyable quick read with good characters.

Recommended Audience: Girl-read, sixteen-and-up, fans of historical fantasy.

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