Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Messenger.

I've read a lot of Christian historical fiction over the past couple of years. Sometimes the stories tend to run together and be a little too similar, but Siri Mitchell is one author in this genre who I can always count on for a good, unique historical novel. And The Messenger was no exception.

Hannah Sunderland is a young Quaker woman living in Philadelphia under the British Occupation in 1778. She's content with the faith she's always known until her twin brother, who has joined up with the Colonials, ends up in the jail in town. Her fellow Quakers don't believe in supporting war or soldiers in any situation, so even visits to her brother in the jail are forbidden. Jeremiah Jones, a former soldier who runs a tavern, needs some way to pass messages to some of the imprisoned soldiers to plot an escape. Can he persuade Hannah to also become a spy, when she refuses to lie?

I think this is one of the first historical novels I've read that is set during the Revolutionary War! It seems that most of them take place during the mid to late 1800s. That's one of the unusual aspects of this book. Another is the very interesting pairing of the two leads: a young pacifist Quaker woman and a man who lost his arm during his time as a soldier.

I'll have to admit that I struggled to really get into the book until about halfway through. At first, it took me a while to get used to the dialogue, especially the fact that the Quaker characters use a lot of "thee's" and "thou's. It seemed a bit wooden until I got used to it. :) Also, it seemed that the romance was a bit back and forth. Hannah and Jeremiah definitely had a Lizzy vs. Darcy thing going on at times, which isn't uncommon, but sometimes it felt like their ups and downs were a little too unrealistic. I remember within a couple of pages at one point, Hannah told him that she despised and loathed him, and then she was thinking about how she always felt so safe with him.

There were a couple of other little plot holes and inconsistencies- things that were emphasized so much at one point were just brushed over at other times.

But despite these little things, I really did enjoy the book, though not as much as I hoped to. Despite the fact that an escape from the jail is being planned, it wasn't exactly a nail-biting story. Things did get a little intense during the last 1/3, though. I enjoyed the glimpse into the Quaker faith, even if I did find their refusal to aid or visit the prisoners infuriating. Especially Hannah's could they not care about what was happening to their son? I also liked the issue that was brought up about truth and lies- when is it okay to tell a lie? When lives are at stake? And though the end came sort of abruptly, I was satisfied with it. :)

I recommend Siri Mitchell's The Messenger (and other books) to fans of faith-based historical fiction, especially if you're interested in something of the Revolutionary War era.

{Note: I received this novel free for review from Bethany House Publishers. In exchange, I was asked to right an honest, and not necessarily positive, review.}

Until next time,


  1. I'm glad you liked this book! I agree with you about the slow start -- once I got past that I was hooked.

  2. Interesting! I might have to take a peek at this sometime

  3. Thanks for taking the time to write and post a review!

    Happy reading,



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