Saturday 2 November 2019

#BookReview — Serpents in the Garden (The Graham Saga #5) by Anna Belfrage #HistoricalFiction #TimeTravel @abelfrageauthor

Serpents in the Garden
(The Graham Saga #5)
By Anna Belfrage

After years of hard work, Matthew and Alex Graham have created a thriving home in the Colony of Maryland. About time, in Alex’s opinion, after far too many adventures she is really looking forward to some well-deserved peace and quiet.

A futile hope, as it turns out. Things start to heat up when Jacob, the third Graham son, absconds from his apprenticeship to see the world – especially as Jacob leaves behind a girl whom he has wed in a most irregular fashion.

Then there’s the infected matter of the fellow time traveller Alex feels obliged to help – no matter the risk. Worst of all, one day Philip Burley and his brothers resurface after years of absence. As determined as ever to make Matthew pay for every perceived wrong – starting with the death of their youngest brother – the Burleys play out a complicated cat and mouse game, and Alex is thrown back into an existence where her heart is constantly in her mouth, convinced as she is that one day the Burleys will achieve their purpose.

Will the Burleys succeed? And if they do, will the Graham family survive the exacted price?

"I avenge my own. Best you don't forget that, aye?"

It had been years. So many years. So much resentment and hatred. Luke Graham should despise his brother's son, his nephew, but he did not. How could he? Jacob was a likeable young man, and he got on well with Luke's own son. Perhaps it was time to let bygones be bygones.

Philip Burley and his brothers, however, were determined to be avenged. Matthew Graham would die by their hands, for they had made a vow, and it was one that they intended to keep. Matthew was living on borrowed time, as was his wife, Alex. The Burley brothers would have their revenge in blood.

Matthew knew this day would come. They were always there, the Burleys', in the back of his mind. They had tried to kill him once. They would try again. It was just a question of when.

Alec Graham had thought all of her mother's paintings had been destroyed. There would be no more slipping through time, for anyone ever again. But then she hears a tale of a young man of colour, who claims he is a free man. Who claims to be equal to his white counterparts. Who claims to have fallen through time. Alex refuses to look the other way. She must help him, free him from the bonds of servitude. But at what cost to herself?

From a hastily muttered handfasting to a wedding built on a foundation of happiness and love, Serpents in the Garden (The Graham Saga #5) by Anna Belfrage is an undeniable historical time-travel triumph.

This series keeps getting better and better. Belfrage writes with such energy and such imagination that it is as if I have been swept up and transported back in time as quickly and as effortlessly as if I had fallen through one of Mercedes' magical paintings. I am beginning to wonder if The Graham Saga is indeed a time portal, for as soon as I began to read, time ceased to matter. I became fully invested in the lives of these characters and the era that it is set in. This is as close to time-travel as any reader could ever hope.

Having read this series from the beginning, it is like meeting up with old friends. Many years have passed by since Book 1, and the characters have aged. And with age comes maturity, ill-health for some, and for Matthew and Alex a mature, yet inspirational love. Their story is fresh, tantalisingly gripping, and one that I don't want to come to an end. But what I especially loved was how their children have grown up and found their own way, and are telling their own story. I cannot get enough of the Graham family. Belfrage is a storyteller that knows how to get her readers hooked and, more importantly, keep them hooked and begging for more.

Matthew and Alex are still the main characters in this novel, but there are several sub-plots with their grown-up children that bewitched me. Firstly, there is young Jacob — an adventure, a risk-taker. However, at the same time, he wants to make his parents proud — he wants to be someone. Jacob is an idealist, perhaps even a dreamer, and he can be incredibly innocent and naive as to the way the world works. But he has such a good heart and is always full of good intentions — even if sometimes those intentions rebounded. I thought Jacob was fabulous, and I enjoyed reading about him.

Another character who intrigued me in this book was Luke Graham. Luke has always been the antagonist in this story. He has done some wicked things to his brother, but there were moments in this book where I found myself almost liking him. Luke becomes this anti-hero. Belfrege lets us glimpse at this other side to his character — that character that Margaret so desperately loved. I am really glad Belfrage did this and gave Luke a platform in which to tell his side of the story. Don't get me wrong, he is still despicable, and he cannot negate his past, but he is not all bad either.

Ian, since he was introduced as this little boy who was unsure who his birth father was, has always been one of my favourite characters. Belfrage is not kind to him. He goes through Hell, not once but twice, and yet Ian still maintains this air of compassion. He is wronged dreadfully in this story, and yet he does not become bitter. Ian's capacity for love and his empathy towards others makes him one of those unforgettable characters. I truly hope Ian has an easier time in Book 6!

The Burley brothers are still in fine form — causing fear, anguish and suffering. How I detest them. They have no redeemable qualities at all. They are loathsome, and I genuinely feared where it was going to end. Belfrage is very good at penning contemptible villains.

The historical backdrop to this story is balanced incredibly well with the narrative. Belfrage seemingly writes effortlessly, but of course, to be able to do that means that Belfrage has certainly done her homework. The hours of research that Belfrage has devoted to this era has to be commended because Belfrage does not limit herself to one country — London, Scotland, The Colony of Maryland, and Virginia are all represented in this story. It is such a vast historical canvas, but Belfrage has not only pulled it off, but she has excelled at it. I take my hat off to you, Ms Belfrage, you are an exceptional writer and an outstanding historian.

This series is not losing any of its momenta. I adored every sentence, every word, every syllable of Serpents in the Garden (The Graham Saga #5). Historical time-travel does not get better than this.

I Highly Recommend.

Review by Mary Anne Yarde.
The Coffee Pot Book Club.

Pick up your copy of
Serpents in the Garden

Anna Befrage

Had Anna been allowed to choose, she’d have become a time-traveller. As this was impossible, she became a financial professional with two absorbing interests: history and writing. Anna has authored the acclaimed time travelling series The Graham Saga, set in 17th century Scotland and Maryland, as well as the equally acclaimed medieval series The King’s Greatest Enemy which is set in 14th century England.  She has recently released the first in a new series, The Wanderer. This time, she steps out of her normal historical context and A Torch in His Heart is with a fast-paced contemporary romantic suspense with paranormal and time-slip ingredients.

Find out more about Anna by visiting her website, or herAmazon page.

1 comment:

See you on your next coffee break!
Take Care,
Mary Anne xxx