A romantic and exhilarating historical adventure about a girl who must unlock the secrets within Paradise Lost to save her father—perfect for fans of Revolution and Code Name Verity—from acclaimed author Anne Blankman, whose debut novel, Prisoner of Night and Fog, was a Sydney Taylor Notable Book for Teens in 2015 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 king’s men 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 Viviani, 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.
Anne Blankman wows once again. I fell in love with her debut duology Prisoner of Night and Fog and Traitor Angels does not disappoint. When it comes to historical fiction Blankman weaves together historical facts, fiction, and plot twists to near perfection. As a reader, I can tell how much love she puts into her storylines. Her world building feels like you are being placed right inside a postcard. Vivid imagery and description put you right inside the action. Even though it is set in 1666, the world feels as fresh and as real as if I just stepped outside my front door.
Being a big fan of Milton, I love how Blackman added in secret messages, clues and codes. Turning what many might assume is just another boring British poem (which it definitely is not) into something so much more. It is a great way to get new young readers into British Lit. It mixes poetry with incredible historical details, religion and science, intrigue, romance, and of course a twisting and turning mystery adventure plot.
I have been incredibly lucky with a historical/literary reading streak. Traitor Angels is up at the top of my list after reading other fantastic YA book on Charlotte Bronte- these two books make a great pair especially if you have time to read at the beach!. The scavenger hunt feeling had me trying to figure out the puzzle too.
Both well-research, imaginative, and obviously written with love, I recommend this book to fans of historical fiction and mystery readers. After reading Traitor Angels I just wanted to give it a hug. I know it might be too soon- but when is the next Anne Blankman book coming?
Interesting facts about British Lit (Paradise Lost)
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.