Traitor Angels by Anne Blankman
Genre: YA Historical Fiction, Mysteries
Page Length: 393 Pages
Publication Date: May 3rd, 2016
Publisher: Harper Collins
Source: ARC via Irish Banana Tours
Stars: 4 out of 5
ABOUT TRAITOR ANGELS:
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.
When I first heard that one of my favorite authors, Anne Blankman, was going to be releasing a new book soon I knew that I needed to get my hands on it. Her talent for weaving fact and fiction together into an entertaining yet informative novel is almost unprecedented. I love both of her previous books, Prisoner of Night and Fog and The Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke, and so I went into reading Traitor Angels blindly, only knowing two key things about it; One, that it had been written by Anne Blankman and Two, that it was being compared to The Da’Vinci Code! I absolutely love reading books that have secret societies, treasure hunts, and hidden secrets that could tear the world apart etc….Obviously this book was meant for me.
Since Traitor Angels is divided into four parts, my review is going to be broken down into three parts because the third and fourth part of the book have too many spoilers so I’m going to combine them.
Part 1: As I said before, I didn’t really know anything about this book before I read it and so when I discovered that Traitor Angels is set in 1666, I can’t say that I was thrilled. I have never liked reading about this period in history and so when I first started reading I was a little….bored? I know that all good historical novels start out slowly and Traitor Angels was no exception. In the beginning of the novel we see how close our main character, Elizabeth is with her father, John Milton the author of Paradise Lost helping him write one of his most famous works. She has had an unusual upbringing because of this, she’s been educated as a boy would have been back then as well as her being an expert swordsman (swordswoman?) as a result of her education her dreams are very different to those her sisters have. Rather than dreaming of marriage and comfort, Elizabeth dreams of being an astronomer but this is a position only men to hold in the scientific community. Because of this I did enjoy reading Elizabeth’s character, she was very smart and independent and she even reasoned like a philosopher, never making hasty decisions.
I love it when characters have families that are an integral part of their lives. One of my favorite aspects of the story was how close Elizabeth was with her family and what lengths she is willing to go to protect them. We are also introduced to her future love interest, Antonio Vivani. There was just something about him that grated on my nerves, but other than that he was a very interesting character who was very well acquainted with Galileo’s work ( he work as an apprentice to Galileo’s apprentice, Vincenzo Viviani in the novel).
I also found it to be so very interesting to see how Paradise Lost played such an integral role in the “treasure hunt” that threatened to collapse civilization ( this isn’t an exaggeration on my part). There were a lot of excerpt of the poem scattered throughout the book and seeing how it’s algorithms and multiple meanings of words were clues was just fascinating!
Part 2: It was in this part that Elizabeth and Antonio start finding out more about the secrets that the King may have wanted to hide. Most of this part of the book was spent searching and trying to decipher all of the clues that Elizabeth’s father had hidden. I can’t really discuss much more than that without giving away a large majority of the plot. But I will say that reading about how these philosophers yearned to unlock the secrets of the universe was very inspiring to me. Now in days, we take for granted our knowledge of gravity, where the Earth is located in space, or that the Earth and all the planets revolve around the Sun etc… Seeing the struggles of the philosophers in this time period who were trying to make sense of the world and universe in a non-religious way but, were condemned by the churches as being herectic gave me a deeper appreciation for science.
Part 3 & 4 : This part of the story was so action packed,there were moments of deceit, danger, suspense and even murder. Don’t even get me started on the twist at the end, it was incredible!!! While I wish that this book never ended, the ending itself was perfect. After I finished the novel, it left me wondering how many more secrets are left to discover about the universe and world around us? Or how many moments in history have been erased in order to protect someone? To me, this what a historical fiction novel should be like, thought provoking and entertaining.
Overall, Traitor Angels was a fantastic, informative and very well researched book. I have walked away from this book knowing so much more about the great philosophers and pioneers in science and literature. This book might not be for everyone with it’s heavy themes of religion and science but I think that everyone should read it.
Thank you so much HarperCollins and the Irish Banana Tours for providing me with a e-arc for review. In compliance with FTC guidelines, I must state that I received this book for free and was in no way compensated for my review.
ABOUT ANNE BLANKMAN:
Anne Blankman may have been meant to be a writer because her parents named her for Anne of Green Gables. She grew up in an old house with gables (gray, unfortunately) in upstate New York. When she wasn’t writing or reading, she was rowing on the crew team, taking ballet lessons, fencing and swimming. She graduated from Union College with degrees in English and history, which comes in handy when she writes historical fiction.
After earning a master’s degree in information science, Anne began working as a youth services librarian. Currently, she lives in southeastern Virginia with her family. When she’s not writing young adult fiction, she’s playing with her daughter, training for races with her husband, working at her amazing library branch, learning to knit (badly), and reading.
3 Finished Copies of TRAITOR ANGELS (US Only)