By: Anne Blankman
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: May 3rd, 2016
Six years have passed since England’s King Charles II returned from exile to reclaim the throne, ushering in a new era of stability for his subjects.
Except for Elizabeth Milton. The daughter of notorious poet John Milton, Elizabeth has never known her place in this shifting world—except by her father’s side. By day she helps transcribe his latest masterpiece, the epic poem Paradise Lost, and by night she learns languages and sword fighting. Although she does not dare object, she suspects that he’s training her for a mission whose purpose she cannot fathom.
Until one night the reason becomes clear: the king’s man arrive at her family’s country home to arrest her father. Determined to save him, Elizabeth follows his one cryptic clue and journeys to Oxford, accompanied by her father’s mysterious young houseguest, Antonio Vivani, a darkly handsome Italian scientist who surprises her at every turn. Funny, brilliant, and passionate, Antonio seems just as determined to protect her father as she is—but can she trust him with her heart?
When the two discover that Milton has planted an explosive secret in the half-finished Paradise Lost—a secret the king and his aristocratic supporters are desperate to conceal—Elizabeth is faced with a devastating choice: cling to the shelter of her old life or risk cracking the code, unleashing a secret that could save her father…and tear apart the very fabric of society.
Traitor Angels once again showcases Anne’s firm grasp on historical fiction writing. This time, instead of pre-WWII Germany, Anne takes us to the time of John Milton while he is penning his most famous work, Paradise Lost. And if you don’t remember from when you read it in high school, it’s that epic poem about Satan’s fall from heaven that you probably read the CliffNotes for.
Elizabeth is our protagonist and John Milton’s daughter, she spends her days writing down his dictated works as well as receiving an education similar to the boys of that era. That is, until her father is dragged off to London to face Charles II once again, and Elizabeth sets off to follow clues he left behind in his works that should reveal what the king is trying to find. The only problem: Elizabeth has no idea what her father could have hidden or how it ties into his works that she has so diligently written down.
While Anne’s scavenger hunt plot is one that I will never tire of, and since it was done so well it gives the book 3 stars all on its own, the characters bumped the book up to outstanding. I loved Elizabeth, she’s smart and realistic, she harbors no illusions over what would happen if she fails to save her father, and her devotion to her father, to the point of deciding to follow his wishes instead of saving him, is refreshing in the sense that she doesn’t disregard what he wants just to make herself feel better. Her relationship with her sister Anne was also a touching a one, and I loved the amount of sisterly affection that was infused into the few scenes they had together. The romantic interest, Antonio, was a great match for Elizabeth, he respected her decisions and the interests that her untraditional education had inspired.
Traitor Angels offers a historical mystery with a satisfying mix of reality and fiction, with appearances by historically relevant characters from Milton himself to Hooke, Boyle, and even Galileo lended his own influences over the plot. For a satisfying standalone read, this book comes highly recommended, and should quickly be followed by Anne’s previous books if you haven’t already read those.
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Disclaimer: The synopsis and cover picture were pulled from the book’s Goodreads page. Neither belong to us. An ARC was provided by Around the World ARC Tours.