Balzer + Bray
May 03, 2016
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon
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.
The beginning of Traitor Angels does a fantastic job introducing readers to both our main character Elizabeth Milton, that she is John Milton's daughter and who he is along with the time period. The novel is set in 1666 in England, a time and location combination I was mostly unfamiliar with. I liked how we're informed about the history of the English Civil War, John Milton's role, and the current state of things while still making it a part of the story. It is informative, but not an infodump.
Elizabeth, with her different upbringing - sword fighting, learning multiple languages, being more educated than girls of the time - fits not only who is needed to put the clues together but also the right character for readers to understand the time period.
The questions of science and religion that the characters, their different worlds and lives, and the events of the story bring up are interesting. They definitely fit well within the time period and what was believed then (scientifically and religiously) but many could still apply today. I thought that the characters and author did a nice job discussing things, coming to conclusions but not being offensive. (Judgmental maybe, but not offensive. Though, some more conservative Christians may take issue in a few places.)
When it comes to the 'mystery' Elizabeth has to solve, I found some of the clues, their solutions and/or how the characters figured things out to be rather . . . convenient. It still made sense that Elizabeth be one of those piecing things together, and what she'd learned helped, but it was too easy for me.
I'm still not that sure what I think about what that 'explosive secret' turned out to be. I did really like the characters, the questions and doubts they had about the workings of the world, each other, their role in society, science and religions. It really did take full advantage of the time period, recent events and the real (ie non-fictional) people included in the story.
received from publisher, via Edelweiss, for review