Friday, May 11, 2012

Review: The Messenger by Siri Mitchell

Book Cover and Synopsis:
Hannah Sunderland felt content in her embrace of the Quaker faith...until her twin brother joined the Colonial cause and ended up in jail. She longs to bring some measure of comfort to him in the squalid prison, but her faith forbids it. The Friends believe that they are not to take sides, not to take up arms. She is not allowed to visit him, even if she were able to secure a pass.

Jeremiah Jones, a Colonial spy, needs access to the jail to help rescue men important to the cause. Upon meeting Hannah, a plan begins to develop. Who would suspect a pious Quaker visiting a loved one?

But Jeremiah is unprepared for Hannah, for her determination to do right, to not lie. How can one be a spy and not lie? Hannah, in turn, is surprised by Jeremiah...for the way he forces her to confront her own beliefs, for the sensitivity and concern that he shows her despite the wounds he still carries.

In a time of war, can two unlikely heroes find the courage to act? 

My Thoughts:
Siri Mitchell has once again proven her incredible talent for bringing the past to life, this time with her newest novel The Messenger. Wartime and spy novels aren't normally my "thing", but I was quickly pulled into the intrigue of Hannah's mission and Jeremiah's struggles of being an informant, a position which simply fell into his hands.

Hannah and Jeremiah's characters are so vivid that they simply jump off the pages and call you to enter the past with them. I very much enjoyed them both, they were well developed and very different from the normal characters you generally find in historical fiction. Hannah's faith caused her to completely refuse to tell a lie, even if it meant her spy status could be revealed. You gotta admire that... of course it frustrated Jeremiah to no end, but it sure was amusing to read and ponder on. 

The Messenger is extremely unique, transporting the reader back to the troubling times of the founding of our nation and the British occupation. I'm somewhat ashamed to admit that I'm not extremely familiar with the events of this time period, so when the story opened I was a bit lost. It wasn't terribly long before I was able to surmise what was going on, but I wish a brief prologue with some small historical facts had been included to quickly establish the setting and situation for non-history buffs such as myself.

Walnut Street Jail, prominently featured in The Messenger
I also wasn't very familiar with Quakers and their beliefs, but I found it quite interesting to see how they lived and dealt with conflict. I enjoyed seeing Hannah's attitude and position slowly shift on different topics, it was done well and very realistically.

Overall, I'm very glad to have read The Messenger. It's extremely well written and very entertaining, while at the same time it takes your thoughts back to the beginnings of our country and the lengths some people went to, and sacrifices they made, to make America free. Even if historical or spy novels aren't your normal thing, give this one a try. I think you'll be glad you did.

My Rating: 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5.
(I received this book courtesy of the publisher, Bethany House, in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own, a positive review was not required.)

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