I recently received a copy of Revenge and Retribution by Anna Belfrage in exchange for an honest review. It’s number 6 in an eight book timeslip historical fiction series set in the seventeenth century. This is the second book I’ve read in the series; I reviewed Book 5, Serpents in the Garden, in April.
The publisher, Silverwood Books, describes Revenge and Retribution as, “the sixth book in Anna Belfrage’s time slip series featuring time traveller Alexandra Lind and her seventeenth century husband, Matthew Graham.
Life in the Colony of Maryland is no sinecure – as Alex and Matthew Graham well know. But nothing in their previous life has prepared them for the mayhem that is about to be unleashed upon them.
Being labelled a witch is not a good thing in 1684, so it is no wonder Alex Graham is aghast at having such insinuations thrown at her. Even worse, it’s Matthew’s brother-in-law, Simon Melville, who points a finger at her.
Not that the ensuing hearing is her main concern, because nowadays Alex’s entire life is tainted by the fear of what Philip Burley will do to them once he gets hold of them – there is no longer any ‘if’ about it. On a sunny May afternoon, it seems Philip Burley will at last revenge himself on Matthew for every single perceived wrong. Over the course of twenty-four hours, Alex’s life – and that of her family’s – is permanently changed.
As if all this wasn’t enough, Alex also has to cope with the loss of one of her sons. Forcibly adopted by the former Susquehannock, Samuel is dragged from Alex’s arms to begin a new life in the wilderness.
How is Alex to survive all this? And will she be able to put her damaged family back together?”
Revenge and Retribution is well written with a plot that keeps the reader’s attention. I was once again intrigued by the storylines of each of the main characters and enjoyed picking up the threads of their lives from where I had left them in the previous book.
Unlike Serpents in the Garden, this book does not sail back and forth between seventeenth century London and the American wilderness. It stays in the New World but the varied settings in town and countryside which the author describes vividly are more than enough to capture the reader’s imagination.
Characters are, of course, central to any story. I find the characters in this series believable and engaging and get immersed in their stories. I enjoyed following the developments in Sarah’s and Ruth’s lives this time and meeting the new character, Fr Munoz. After getting to know him in the previous book, I keenly felt the loss of one of the Graham boys. I did not like Alex’s wily brother-in-law, Simon Melville, nearly as much in this book as I did in the last one even though I understood the motivation for his actions; I was rooting for Alex.
It wasn’t difficult to pick up the threads of the story even though this is the sixth book in the series. Details from previous books are seamlessly woven into the novel and explained so that the reader isn’t confused. It’s possible to read Revenge and Retribution as a standalone book or as part of the series.
As in Book 5, once again all the strands of the story come together for a satisfying conclusion. The confrontation with the Burleys, that is a culmination of a conflict that has developed over several books, occurs in this book, at the place in the series where the reader is ready to have this issue resolved. But, although the story finishes with the Graham family on an even keel and recovering from the horrors they have faced, a glimpse into the first chapter of the next book assures me that there’s more to come. It seems that I’ll need to get the next novel and keep reading.
I can honestly recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys historical fiction, fantasy/time-slip or just a good story.
About Anna Belfrage: Anna was raised abroad, on a pungent mix of Latin American culture, English history and Swedish traditions. As a result she’s multilingual and most of her reading is historical – both non-fiction and fiction.
She was always going to be a writer – or a historian, preferably both. Instead she ended up with a degree in Business and Finance, with very little time to spare for her most favourite pursuit. In between juggling a challenging career she raised four children on a potent combination of invented stories, historical debates and masses of good food and homemade cakes. Nowadays she spends most of her spare time at her writing desk. The children are half grown, the house is at times eerily silent and she slips away into her imaginary world, with her imaginary characters. Every now and then the one and only man in her life pops his head in to ensure she’s still there.