Monday, April 11, 2016

Review: Traitor Angels by Anne Blankman

Traitor Angels by Anne Blankman
Publisher - Balzer + Bray
Released - May 3rd 2016
Pre-order - Amazon / B&N
Six years have passed since England’s King Charles II returned from exile to reclaim the throne, ushering in a new era of stability for his subjects.

Except for Elizabeth Milton. The daughter of notorious poet John Milton, Elizabeth has never known her place in this shifting world—except by her father’s side. By day she helps transcribe his latest masterpiece, the epic poem Paradise Lost, and by night she learns languages and sword fighting. Although she does not dare object, she suspects that he’s training her for a mission whose purpose she cannot fathom.

Until one night the reason becomes clear: the king’s man arrive at her family’s country home to arrest her father. Determined to save him, Elizabeth follows his one cryptic clue and journeys to Oxford, accompanied by her father’s mysterious young houseguest, Antonio Vivani, a darkly handsome Italian scientist who surprises her at every turn. Funny, brilliant, and passionate, Antonio seems just as determined to protect her father as she is—but can she trust him with her heart?

When the two discover that Milton has planted an explosive secret in the half-finished Paradise Lost—a secret the king and his aristocratic supporters are desperate to conceal—Elizabeth is faced with a devastating choice: cling to the shelter of her old life or risk cracking the code, unleashing a secret that could save her father…and tear apart the very fabric of society.

My Thoughts:

Anne Blankman's third novel Traitor Angels proved to me that sometimes, going into a book blind without knowing anything about it can be VERY VERY good thing. I usually do a lot of research about books before I pick them up, which is not only time consuming (and takes time away from reading), but also means that I often decide not to read books that could end up being really awesome! I know that if I would have read the synopsis for Traitor Angels I probably would have passed it, just because I am not a huge historical YA reader, but now that I have devoured the novel, I am thinking I should leave synopsis unread more often.

To begin with, I think it would be good to mention that I haven't read Milton's Paradise Lost. I am one of those people who keeps saying that I should read it, but I don't actually know when or if that will actually happen. Blankman's novel definitely gave me a nudge to finally pick it up, but we'll see... Also, it probably would be good to mention that I have never really been interested in English history, except in Jane Austen and the society and customs her novels deal with. Because of that disinterest, I haven't picked historical novels set in England to read very often, but after reading Traitor Angels I feel I maybe should give that setting a chance a bit too often.

Elizabeth Milton is one of the four daughters of John Milton, once a famous political writer, now pretty much a prisoner in his home, shunned by the monarchy and the society in general. Blind and frail, John Milton spends his days reciting Paradise Lost to his daughter Elizabeth to whom he has taught languages and much more. As a result of her father's education of her, Elizabeth is much more learned that other young women around her, as a result of which her dreams about her future are very different to those her sisters have - rather than dreaming of marriage and comfort, Elizabeth dreams of being an astronomer, of doing research, of getting a position only men are seen to hold in the scientific community.

When the Kings men arrive in Elizabeth's home and take her father away, Elizabeth quickly realizes that all the education she has gone through has actually been her father training her for something. She also begins to quickly understand that Paradise Lost might be more than just a poem and starts to look for clues from within the text. With the help of Antonio Vivani, a mysterious house guest who shows up just before the kings men do, Elizabeth travels to Oxford, and from there to London determined to free her father before he is hanged.

The chemistry between Elizabeth and Antonio is TANGIBLE and SLOW BURNING and HOT and so damn SWOON WORTHY. Antonio is perfectly cheeky and charming and never expects Elizabeth to act like other women of her time. He understands her dreams for her future and in many ways helps Elizabeth realize what she really wants - and with whom. Antonio is funny, intelligent, protective and passionate, so pretty much a kind of guy you will have a very hard time resisting.

If you love strong, independent, intelligent female characters, look no further, because Elizabeth is all that. I absolutely adored her determination to do what she does and the way she conducts herself in order to gain what she wants and needs. She does not instantly love with Antonio - she does not even trust him at first. She questions the motivations of those willing to help her, because in the end, why would they want to help an old blind man without gaining something out of it themselves? In addition to being well-taught, she is trained in sword-fighting, which just adds to her level of awesomeness.

As mentioned, I am not familiar with Paradise Lost, but luckily that didn't take anything away from the novel. I love how Blankman has been able to make Milton's classic available for a wider pool of readers through this novel, and I have a feeling a lot of people who read this will be picking up Paradise Lost afterwards. Though there are actual historical figures in this novel, like Milton himself, Traitor Angels is a work of fiction. I am floored by the way Blankman has used her imagination to weave in different events from the history with Paradise Lost and these wonderful characters she has created.

Traitor Angels is extremely well research, written, paced and characterized. Once I started reading it, I had a very difficult time putting it down. It offers a perfect blend of action, romance, character relationships and history. In addition, it is a standalone novel, which I appreciate, because I have a very hard time keeping up with series. Honestly, there is nothing negative I can say about it, expect maybe that I wish that I would have never ended, because it has been a while since I have been this invested with a story and a set of characters.

5 Snowflakes


  1. I wasn't sure if this was going to be a standalone so hurray! I'm looking forward to this one and it sounds like the romance is perfect! Thanks for the great review :)

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