A week ago I finished this great book (from the library) and haven’t had a chance to write about it. “The Wolves of Andover” is the prequel to Kent’s “The Heretic’s Daughter” – a novel about Salem that I just loved!
This story takes place in the town of Billerica (right next to where I used to live!) and tells of Martha Allen – a strong-willed and independent young woman – as she comes to stay at her pregnant cousin’s house to help care for her and her children. Martha is intrigued with the farm laborer, Thomas Carrier, a man working off his servitude in order to gain a plot of land along the Concord River. Thomas has a somewhat mysterious past, and there is rumor that he is actually Thomas Morgan – the executioner of King Charles I (and thus, a wanted criminal). Martha and Thomas’ friendship turns to love, but as their story line moves forward a separate plot develops and threatens to converge with theirs: a group of miscreants who are out to find Thomas and bring him back to England, dead or alive.
Kent’s story arises from her own family’s history: she is a distant descendant of Thomas and Martha Carrier – and Martha Carrier was hung as a witch in Salem in the 1690’s. Kent has a wonderful ability to paint a picture of the bleakness of the winter landscape and of the Puritan existence. The “wolves” are both actual wolves that the family is trying to keep away from their livestock, and the “wolves” that are coming after Thomas.
My biggest problem with the book was the harsh distinction between the chapters as we jumped from Massachusetts to England (or more specifically to the “bad guys” coming to America).
I also am still pondering the title. Call me dense, but why is it the wolves of Andover since they were in Billerica? Martha’s family is in Andover (a town about 25 miles away). The human wolves that are seeking Thomas are from England. I have to think that there is a reason beyond the fact that “the wolves of Andover” flows better than “the wolves of Billerica” – but what it is I can’t tell you. Comments, please!
See Kathleen Kent talking about her novels and family: