The Wrecking Storm by Michael Ward – Review.

About The Book

1641. 

London. 

The poisonous dispute pushing King Charles and Parliament towards Civil War is reaching the point of no return. 

Law and order in the city are collapsing as Puritan radicals demand more concessions from the King. Bishops and lords are attacked in the streets as the Apprentice Boys run amok. Criminal gangs use the disorder to mask their activities while the people of London lock their doors and pray for deliverance. 

No one is immune from the contagion. Two Jesuit priests are discovered in hiding and brutally executed – and soon the family of spice merchant Thomas Tallant is drawn into the spiral of violence. Tallant’s home is ransacked, his warehouse raided and his sister seized by kidnappers. 

Thomas struggles to discover who is responsible, aided by the enigmatic Elizabeth Seymour, a devotee of science, maths and tobacco in equal measure. Together they enter a murky world of court politics, street violence, secret codes and poisoned letters, and confront a vicious gang leader who will stop at nothing to satisfy his greed. 

Can Elizabeth use her skills to unpick the mass of contradictory evidence before the Tallants are ruined – both as a business and a family? 

And as the fight for London between King and Parliament hurtles to its dramatic conclusion, can the Tallants survive the personal and political maelstrom?

My Review

With thanks to the author for the copy received. I always enjoy historical fiction, especially when I read something that sends me looking for more information. The Wrecking Storm did just that, as did it’s prequel Rags of Time. This period in history is one that I know little about.

We join Thomas Tallant, his family and close friend Elizabeth again. The Tallant spice business is flourishing but this makes them unpopular with their business rivals who resent the family’s Dutch connections. This resentment brings danger to all of them who feel the threat from an enemy  they can’t identify.

London’s population is growing but there is a lack of housing and many people have no way of earning a living. There are an increasing number of gangs and this combined with the ongoing resentments between king and government make it an extremely dangerous place to live. The main threat comes from the Apprentice Boys who were gaining in power. It was this thread that was the strongest for me, their power and way of recruitment was very convincing.

As the danger levels increased it was Elizabeth who devised the best plan to keep the Tallant’s and their business safe. I was smiling as I read, visualising clearly the confusion and mayhem it caused. But there was also a feeling of sadness when it was revealed who was behind the threat and the consequences of the assault on the family.

Fictional characters combined with those from real life, this was a very interesting and entertaining novel. I hope there is more to come.

Rags Of Time by Michael Ward – Review.

About The Book

London.

1639.

Thomas Tallant, a young and ambitious Spice Merchant, returns from India to find his city in turmoil. 

A bitter struggle is brewing between King Charles I and Parliament, as England slides into civil war. The capital is simmering with dissent. The conflict is ready to boil over.

But Thomas soon has other troubles to contend with. A wealthy merchant, Sir Joseph Venell, is savagely killed; then his partner Sir Hugh Swofford plunges to his death, in the Tallant household.

Suspicion falls on Thomas, who is sucked into a mire of treachery and rumour within the City of London. As the merchant struggles to clear his name, he becomes captivated by the enigmatic Elizabeth Seymour, whose passion for astronomy and mathematics is matched only by her addiction to the gaming tables.

Pursued by the authorities, Thomas races to unmask the real killer who claims a third victim to implicate him further, toying with his future in a deadly cat and mouse game.

In a desperate race against time, Elizabeth applies her powers of logic and deduction to unearth the clues that will point to the killer, but her way is barred by a secret message from the grave. 

Can she crack its code before Thomas, now a wounded and exhausted fugitive, succumbs to the chase?

And, if she succeeds, has Thomas the strength to face his tormentor and win his life and reputation back?

My Review

With thanks to the author for the copy received. I always enjoy a dip into historical fiction and even though I read quite a lot that takes place in London this is the first book that I have read that is set in the 17th century. I found it refreshing, interesting and enlightening.

I remember learning at school about the reign of Charles I and the onset of the English Civil War but hadn’t really followed it since. I was aware of a few battles taking place in the Northern city where I live, one of them a few hundred yards from my home. But I knew nothing about what it was like for the normal everyday citizen who had to try and survive a London that was overcrowded, full of the disease and filth that goes with overcrowding and also cope with increasingly volatile and dangerous times. Nobody was safe. Particularly Tom, the lead character in this novel who manages to find himself suspected of murder. Even though he had an alibi.

I really liked Elizabeth Seymour, forward thinking, open, and clever. I enjoyed reading about her knowledge of the human body and found it fascinating what the medics at the time thought. She didn’t fall into the image I have of a woman from these times. I couldn’t see her behaving like she was expected to. Meek, compliant and invisible. 

I see huge potential for this to be the start of a successful series. Strong characters, a less discussed period in British history and a very realistic setting.