A Far Horizon by Brenda Rickman Vantrease (Broken Kingdom Volume II)

‘All of England simmered.  In the halls of Parliament, tempers flared.’

In the summer of 1643, the civil war between King Charles I and Parliament is well underway.  Neither side is prepared to back down, and no-one is safe, not even non-combatants.  The focus of this novel is on three women who are fighting for their survival.  Caroline Pendleton is a young widow, fending for herself in London.  Tensions are high, food is scarce, and she has to share her home with billeted soldiers. Lucy Hay, Countess of Carlisle, has conflicting allegiances to both Crown and Parliament.  She treads warily, in the hope of avoiding exile or worse. For the unpopular Queen Henrietta Maria, another exile to France is unwelcome, but will provide her with a haven. She does not wish to leave the King or her children, and her latest pregnancy will make escape difficult.

While I’ve not yet read ‘The Queen’s Promise’, the first novel in Ms Rickman Vantrease’s Broken Kingdom series, I know enough about the English Civil Wars to appreciate the history.  Ms Rickman Vantrease weaves her story around actual events and historical people by introducing plausible fictional characters (such as Caroline Pendleton) to provide differing personal perspectives on events.  Those of us conversant with the history of the period know how it will end (and those who are not can find many answers by searching online).  But Ms Rickman Vantrease’s characters are living in these events, uncertain as to how and when the civil war will end.  And it’s this uncertainty which Ms Rickman Vantrease captures so well.

I enjoyed this novel and will seek out ‘The Queen’s Promise’ to read.  Knowing the history is one thing, but an effective writer of historical fiction can bring people, place and events to life.  If you are interested in historical fiction set in 17th century England, you may also enjoy this novel.  As I did.

Note: My thanks to NetGalley and Severn House for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith