Published by Balzer + Bray on May 3rd 2016
Genres: Historical, Young Adult
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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 Vivani, 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.
To say I adored this book would be an understatement. Think a little along the lines of the Da Vinci Code. It has the secrets and mystery, the fast pace, and the stubborn characters who just don’t know when to stop looking for clues. Historical fiction is one of my low key favorite genres because there’s so much you can learn from it. Blankman takes a part of what actually happened and adds her own story, which ends up fitting neatly with actual history. We’re looking at the reign of King Charles II, which was a crazy period in England’s history where Oliver Cromwell actually became the leader of the English Interregnum (which literally means “between reign”). The heroine in this book, Elizabeth Milton, is a straightforward and intelligent girl who helps her father John Milton in transcribing his poems, since he is blind.
The book begins with Elizabeth finding out about a stranger in town who’s asking about her father. He turns out to be Antonio, who has a mysterious connection to her father. This visit is cut short, however, because almost immediately afterwards, the king’s men have come to collect Elizabeth’s father. And from there on, Elizabeth makes it her mission to discover the trail of clues that her father left for her and Antonio, and find out what exactly it leads to.
Elizabeth was a neat heroine who definitely didn’t fit in with society’s standards during that time period. The author leaves a note at the end of the book that John Milton’s daughters were all taught forward-thinking skills that wasn’t the norm, so it surprisingly fits real well in the story. I love her unwavering dedication to her father, even when he was super cryptic with these clues sometimes. And throughout her journey, she also starts to discover a little bit of herself, and what she really wants. Before, she was just a helper to her dad. But when she tries to rescue him, she gets a taste of what she can really do without any limits.
My education was a replica of the lessons Father had given his students when he was a young teacher. His male students, for he had taught me as though I were a boy.
Can I get a WHOOP WHOOP for Antonio, or Signor Viviani? At first you’re a little suspicious with this stranger, but that’s quickly dissipated by his quick wit and compassion. Antonio also accompanies Elizabeth on her journey, and their romance was definitely a slow burn. She’s suspicious of him for a longer time than readers (or at least me, whoops), but as they both begin to open up, the romance also begins to flare up. There are definitely complex plots in action that test it in the book, but both characters’ cleverness are enough to entangle these plots.
I love science so, so, so much (as much as I love history. Or learning in general), and Blankman does a fantabulous job in adding science from that time period. We get mentions of top thinkers and philosophers, as well as common beliefs during the time. And one belief was the power of alchemy, and the philosopher’s gold, which could make someone immortal if ingested. Somehow, Elizabeth’s father is involved in all this, and we see characters’ dilemma over if it’s worth it to save someone and make them immortal – basically like a god – or if the secret should be hidden for no one to use instead. The story will definitely keep you on your toes as you discover more and more about this seemingly mythical piece of science.
Elizabeth, a veil covers the world, obscuring our sight, he replied. I’m training you to keep it safe or to cute it – only time will determine which you must do.
Science! History! Puzzle pieces coming together! Clever characters that have quick (and progressive) thinking! Slow burn romance! Mysteries and codes! Journeys and betrayals! If any of the above words interest you in some way, then I definitely recommend to pick Traitor Angels up. There’s a perfect blend of adventure and romance and mystery to keep a reader interested from beginning to end, and an utter sense of satisfaction when you see how exactly these pieces fit in history, and the way they set the tone for the future.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5