Historically Intriguing | Review of ‘Traitor Angels’


By Cynthia Ayala

Traitor Angels by Anne Blankman
Balzer + Bray
Image Credit: Goodreads

Elizabeth Milton has not known a stable life being the daughter of the notorious poet John Milton, helping him write his latest masterpiece Paradise Lost while learning foreign languages and sword fighting at night. Her father is training her for something and with the arrival of the young Italian Antonio Vivani and the King’s court, Elizabeth is thrown into mission fueled by puzzles and mystery she couldn’t dream possible.

Traitor Angels by Anne Blankman was published on May 3, 2016 by Balzer + Bray, takes an interesting journey with historical fiction.

An interesting take on the history surrounding John Milton. What’s more interesting is how the writer delves so deeply into some of the elements that make Paradise Lost such an interesting read. But what’s more is the idea the behind novel, the conception of the book itself to incorporate one of literature’s greatest story to tell a somewhat controversial story, or at the very most hint towards a story that could unravel the Catholic church.

Blankman is taking risks with her storytelling, and not just with the plot but also with her characterization within the period. Following a young woman, an educated young woman is tricky for a novel in this time period, but what makes it work is how believable it is. Elizabeth is a strong, well-rounded character, and her sense of spirit resonates throughout the story. She’s believable and creating believable characters set within the time period is essential, and Blankman did it very well with all the characters. They all fit within the context of the period and the way the story revolves around them alongside the world works; it’s believable which only serves to make the story even more engrossing on the part of the reader.

All of this is just a reflection of the storytelling itself and the strengths that Blankman has with writing. It’s a memorable piece of writing because it challenges faith and challenges it science in a world where one is thought more highly of than the other. It’s modern in that sense of plot structure but set within the period, makes it a challenging piece, a thought-provoking piece of literature. It asks questions of the characters, challenges them to questions all of their beliefs which is one of the most realistic aspects of the novel. It’s not exactly a coming-of-age story, but it could be. Watching the characters on their task, reading them unravel the mysteries of Paradise Lost while also solving the mysteries of who they are giving such an amount of depth to the piece and high level of believability, making this piece such a brilliant success.

The plot itself is also well structured. The pace of the novel rises at the right moments bringing alongside it the tension that it needed to drive the story forward. It’s also a fun fit for fans of Milton’s Paradise Lost because the author uses pieces of the text itself as puzzle pieces, taking a close reading like many literature teachers asked of us in at least one literature class. It’s an interesting direction to take when telling this story while also being both intriguing and fun.

Boldly structured and brilliantly well-developed, Traitor Angels is a novel for fans of Paradise Lost and mystery. (★★★★☆ | A)

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