After reading March
, I had to immediately read this novel by the same author. It's the story about the plague hitting a small village in England and how the people in the small town change as a result of it. I've been fascinated with historical fictions about plagues since reading Connie Willis' Doomsday Book
. I still think I enjoyed Doomsday Book
a bit more, but they are, after all, two entirely different stories.
I found it interesting how this particular plague tale focuses on a real plague in a real town. The Puritans of the town don't know whether to blame God, Satan, or witches for the plague. It's interesting how they looked to their pastor (who wasn't a Puritan) as a leader to tell them what steps to take next: quarantine their town, burn all their possessions, etc. The main character, Anna, was dreamed up by the author when she read that the town's minister's servant was spared in the plague. Curiosity about the servant led to the author creating a historical fantasy in her mind about the town, its inhabitants, and the ministers servant.
This was a great first fiction novel for Brooks. However, it doesn't have nearly the power that March
has. The only semi-unfulfilling parts for me were the unfinished relationships and an ending that felt rushed. Of course there are going to be unfinished relationships in a time of plague, but there are too many that are senselessly cut short. And when the main character is suddenly thrust into a new life toward the end, we merely get a detailess synopsis that leaves us wishing there was more. I suppose that an author has the prerogative to end their story however they want, but I wish they wouldn't take the story to such a different turn and then just stop.