Thursday, June 28, 2012

Book Review: Delightful, Interesting Historical Fiction Read

     In exchange for an honest review Bethany House Publishers sent a complimentary copy of Siri Mitchell's The Messenger. Beginning on the first page the reader will meet the young, Quaker lady, Hannah Sunderland as the book is narrated in firt person. Hannah must decide whether to engage the enemy as a spy or patronize her father's wishes and adhere to their strict Quaker stance of peace at all times. In the midst of the Revolutionary War Hannah is beginning to form her own opinions of morality and decides to follow her heart's unrest and quest for justice.
      Jeremiah seizes upon Hannah's discontent and enlists her as his partner in crime. Mr. Jones runs a pub that many of the Redcoats frequent, though his loyalties are purely for the Colonial people and land he calls home. Hannah's twin brother was captured as a rebel and is being starved along with rest of the captives. In order to assist an escape between the captives in Walnut Street Jail and General George Washington's men, Hannah puts her very own life on the line to become a messenger. The heartbreaking injustice is what moves the story from beginning to end and the hope of freedom the Colonials pray will come. In the beginning Hannah only knows what she has been taught by her family and Quaker Meeting elders. There she has learned to listen for the still, small voice of God which she finds later on prompting her to act far from her charted course. Jeremiah, though often irritated with this young lady, helps Hannah to see she is more than just her beliefs. She learns along the way, that questioning one's beliefs can lead to growth and finds herself as she ministers to those behind jail walls.
    Of the little fiction I do read, The Messenger is by far my favorite. Mitchell wisely focuses on a handful of characters, though she mentions many.  Often, there are so many characters to follow it takes half the book to keep them straight. Here the characters are complex and so well written one feels they know them personally. Hannah and Jeremiah alternate chapters narrating which says a lot for  Siri Mitchell's personal writing skills. Their personalities are very different and shine through each page.
     The historical nuances can be felt throughout demonstrating Mitchell's research and incorporating such into her writing. I have to say though, a glossary of some of the uncommon words would have been helpful. It was only through the context I was able to discern any clue as to what she was speaking of. I would also recommend reading the author's note in the back first. It would have been a better preface. I was delighted though when I read it to learn of how much of this book was based on historical fact. It made the book all that more wonderful and meaningful.
     If any reader is a fan of historical fiction, particularly of Colonial times, The Messenger is one to grab hold of. Do not let the 360 pages deter you from this one. The pages fly by, sometimes to my disappointment. I was a bit disappointed at the ending, not because it wasn't well-written, but because I wanted more. I want to know what became of Hannah Sunderland and Jeremiah Jones. I do hope for a sequel.

Purchase here from Amazon.

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