3 out of 4 stars
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The Angel Strikes by Oliver Fairfax is a historical fiction coming-of-age story that takes place during the Napoleonic Wars. Paul Brandt is a young man who is trying to escape the harsh conditions of Russia with his two uncles. Exposure, starvation, and robbers pose the biggest threats to the small family, and as they fight to stay alive, they arrive at the wrong place at the wrong time. As a result, they get involved in political intrigue surrounding the Napoleonic Wars and Paul has to find a way to keep them safe.
The Napoleonic Wars are a time period that is not explored much in historical fiction, making this story original and interesting. The story is told from the point of view of Paul, as though he is looking back and telling his life story. This first person perspective is a wise choice as it allows the reader to further understand the struggles that Paul had to endure.
The characters are well developed and each add a unique dynamic to the story. I was pleased to see that there was a strong female character in the book, despite the oppressive time period. The text itself is well written and appears to be professionally edited. Fairfax seems very knowledgable on the time period and carries out a carefully plotted story.
There are a few qualms I have with this book. My biggest complaint is that the book’s pacing is poor. There are scenes that are horrifying, filled with action, and that keep you at the edge of your seat, but between these too few scenes are long descriptions of political intrigue or issues such as the repairing of a roof. Also, I feel like the political intrigue, which makes up the majority of the book, is confusing at times. The author would benefit from more precisely explaining the subterfuge that takes place throughout the story.
I have decided to rate The Angel Strikes 3 out of 4 stars. I took away a star because of the book’s poor pacing and the need for more thorough explanation with the plot’s political intrigue. I would recommend this book mostly to history buffs. I am a historical fiction fan myself, but found the story to be a bit dry due to the large amount of political intrigue. I believe those looking for an action filled war story would be disappointed with this book as well. However, I truly think readers with a deep appreciation of history would thoroughly enjoy Fairfax’s The Angel Strikes.
The Angel Strikes
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