Release date: May 3rd 2016
Elizabeth Milton is the daughter of the notorious poet John Milton. She’s always been by his side, lately transcribing his latest work, Paradise Lost, as he can no longer see to write. Her father has taught her languages and sword fighting and skills Elizabeth doesn’t understand why she’ll need. Until the king’s men show up to take her father away for treason. She’s determined to save him, aided by clues he left in his poetry and by a young Italian scientist named Antonio Vivani. When they discover that her father left an important secret buried in Paradise Lost, a secret that could end the king’s reign, Elizabeth must decide to either cling to the shelter of her old life or expose the secret and maybe save her father.
I absolutely loved Anne Blankman’s Prisoner of Night and Fog duology so I was really excited to start a new book with different characters, a different setting, and a new twist on history. It sounded like a Da Vinci’s Code type of book for YA and I was intrigued that it was a standalone, since at first I expected it to be the beginning of a new series.
I liked the main character of Elizabeth. She was feisty and very protective of her family. I especially loved her bond with her sister Anne. She seemed to be the closest of the girls to her father and was the one he seemed to have put the most time into training in sword fighting and making sure she could defend herself. She loved to learn and I loved that she loved it, even though it wasn’t common for that time period for girls to learn. She was so determined to save her father but by following his clues, it led to her faith being shaken and a journey of growth for her.
The side characters were all interesting as well, which I appreciated. Antonio had his own secrets and his own reasons for wanting to help Elizabeth and I enjoyed their slow transition from strangers to friends to romantic interest. I loved that he treated her as his equal instead of like she was inferior to him because of her gender. Elizabeth’s family played a huge role in the book without being present for most of it. Almost everything she did was with them in mind. The mysterious Robert who showed up to help Elizabeth and Antonio on their quest was another great addition and I went from being suspicious of him to liking him and then back again to suspicious then back to liking.
The plot moved pretty slow at times, which I did expect considering the time period. There was a lot of traveling by horse or carriage so that definitely slowed the pace down, other than a few pockets of action here and there throughout the journey. I liked the mystery aspect and that the more Elizabeth discovered, the more it made her question. During the slower parts, it did feel like the book was a little unnecessarily long, but overall, I enjoyed it.
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.