Once again I’ve been fortunate enough to read a pre-release copy of one of Aubrey Hansen’s books! I had the opportunity to beta read the novel, so the intent was to re-read and post this review when the book was released, but rest assured that my thoughts have been simmering in order to offer you the most honest review possible.
I would consider Peter’s Angel primarily a historical fiction novel, but it’s also alternate history. The story is set in an alternate North America, featuring a different set of British colonies. Rhode Island is a smaller colony that is required by peace treaty to pay tribute to New Britain, a large, militant colony that’s loyal to England.
Synopsis: The story follows Peter Jameson, a colonel in the Rhode Island army and son of Rhode Island’s Governor, as he fights oppression from New Britain. Rhode Island is in the process of setting up a mine, but New Britain’s leaders want all of the profit from it. A peace-treaty is broken when New Britain invades Rhode Island, seizing the mine. The Governor of Rhode Island has no choice but to surrender the land to the much stronger colony.
The transition of land into New Britain’s hands is quite simple, however Peter is kidnapped by three traitors in his own army and held for a ransom that would plunge Rhode Island’s citizens into extreme poverty. Hope is far from lost, though, when Peter is rescued by a mysterious boy who won’t give his name and won’t explain why.
Plot: Plot is a crucial aspect of Peter’s Angel. The events in the novel revolve around telling the story of three main characters: Peter, Nathan and Edwin. It’s clear that Aubrey carefully chose the sequence of each event in order to achieve a flowing nature that forces the reader to continue reading. Of course, the narration of each character’s current circumstances would be ineffective if not for the characterization.
Characterization: I believe characterization to be one of Aubrey Hansen’s best traits as a writer. Even though there is a long list of important characters in this novel, Aubrey manages to craft a believable personality for each one, and she stays true to their nature. The character development of Peter, his father, his love interest and his mysterious savior allows the events in the novel to work perfectly.
Historical Accuracy: Besides the whole alternate history thing, the novel is very historically accurate. I’m very good at picking out anachronisms, and I couldn’t find any in Peter’s Angel. Everything down to the date matches the time period, and that’s very important to consider when writing about anything set in another time period. It’s clear that Aubrey Hansen did her homework.
With that said, I’ll leave you with a quote that I believe applies throughout the whole novel:
“You can’t take back bullets,” he whispered. “They’re like words. Once shot, you can’t stop the damage.”