Sunday, March 13, 2011

Review: The Wolves of Andover by Kathleen Kent

The Wolves of Andover by Kathleen Kent
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 320
Date Published: November 2010
Publisher: Regan Arthur Books
Source: Crazy Book Tours
Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Book description (from the publisher):
In the harsh wilderness of colonial Massachusetts, Martha Allen works as a servant in her cousin's household, taking charge and locking wills with everyone. Thomas Carrier labors for the family and is known both for his immense strength and size and for his mysterious past. The two begin a courtship that suits their independent natures, with Thomas slowly revealing the story of his part in the English Civil War. But in the rugged new world they inhabit, danger is ever present, whether in the form of the assassins sent from London to kill the executioner of Charles I or the wolves—in many guises—who hunt for blood. A love story and a tale of courage, The Wolves of Andover confirms Kathleen Kent's ability to craft powerful stories of historical drama.

There were a few loose ends left when I finished The Heretic's Daughter, but the biggest mystery to me involved Martha Carrier's "red book" and the contents of it. We were told that it contained the mysterious story of Thomas Carrier, a background that is hinted at in The Heretic's Daughter but never really fleshed out. Again Ms. Kent weaves together the historical record and family legend to portray his story in The Wolves of Andover.

The Heretic's Daughter was the story of Sarah Carrier's childhood and how the Salem Witch Trials profoundly affected her family. The Wolves of Andover tells the story of how Sarah's parents came to know each other, mostly from her mother Martha's point of view, with her father Thomas's story recorded as he related it to Martha for the "red book". Like The Heretic's Daughter, The Wolves of Andover is connected to historically significant events--in this case the English Civil War and the execution of King Charles I. This connection, however, took place before the time period covered in the book, and is revealed as Martha gets to know Thomas and the rumors whispered about him.

What I liked about this book was that it really helped explain why Martha was the way she was--it helped better reveal her character, which we only briefly got to know in The Heretic's Daughter, through her daughter's eyes. It also explained the shadowy secrets about Thomas Carrier that were only alluded to in that first book--this book explained exactly why people were so nervous around him.

What didn't work as well for me was the storyline of the men from England hired to come find Thomas. It was interesting and somewhat suspenseful, but at times it felt like an unrelated digression from the main part of the story. I don't know, I guess it just didn't resonate with me as much as I expected it to, and it made the book feel a little disjointed.

I am glad I read this book because it helped satiate my curiosity about Thomas Carrier and because I got to know Martha better. She was a much more sympathetic character to me after reading this book. Because it does take place before The Heretic's Daughter, you could probably read it first, but after reading the last chapter I would recommend reading the books in publication order. That last chapter really brought things together as Martha wrote directly to her daughter in it.

I liked the book, though I didn't like it as much as I liked The Heretic's Daughter. I admit that it did make me interested in learning more about the English Civil War--I love it when historical fiction books make me want to learn more about the true story. :)

Related Linkage:
Reading Challenges: Historical Fiction, 2nds Challenge



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