ARC Review: Traitor Angels

Traitor Angels
Traitor Angels by Anne Blankman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Release date: May 3, 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 men 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 Viviani, 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 comes off as a historical Da Vinci Code, with Elizabeth Milton racing to find clues in a scavenger hunt devised by her father, about a secret coded into his masterpiece, Paradise Lost. She has been living a modest life with her blinded father, his new wife, and her three sisters, when one day an Italian scientist comes knocking. Soon after, their king sends out people to apprehend her father; she escapes and with the aforementioned Italian, sets out to figure out what secret was so damning that the king would be involved.

On the journey, there is less hunting involved and more introspection. Having been raised a Puritan, she sees a new way of life and thinking when hunting with the scientist by her side. Antonio, though a Catholic, also reveres the natural philosophy that guides the world, in his mind. When they realize the secret, he doesn’t shy away from the potential truth but shows her how it could be beneficial to the world. She, however, wants to save her father first, and can’t immediately care about the truth. Her journey is from being a simple daughter to a person who wants to realize her dreams, who wants to study the natural world.

While the story itself is quite good, and makes for an exciting read, the writing couldn’t complement it well enough. Often, I would find myself skimming over paragraphs of needless exposition and description, even though they seemed slightly important in the former case, simply because they were superfluous. There was a lull towards the middle of the book in terms of pacing, and I was tempted to stall and pick up another book to get over it. In conclusion, I enjoyed it but I felt it could have been better edited, to lend more urgency to the plot and create the atmosphere which this book should have.

Received a free galley from Balzer + Bray, via Edelweiss, in exchange for an honest review.

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