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Serpents in the Garden (The Graham Saga Book 5) Kindle Edition
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"Children of Blood and Bone"
Tomi Adeyemi conjures a stunning world of dark magic and danger in her West African-inspired fantasy debut. Learn more
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In this installment, it's four years later from where we left off with book #4...A Newfound Land (The Graham Saga Book 4). Alex has completely adjusted to living in the 17th century. She's still an opinionated, stubborn spitfire, but she's grudgingly adapted to her lowly status of being a woman in a mans' world. She and Matthew are living with the fear and threat of the villainous Burley brothers who vow revenge upon Matthew for the death of their younger brother. Hardships abound for the new homesteaders in this raw new land. Working long days carving out a new life in the middle of nowhere. Criminals reduce themselves even lower by abducting free white people to sell into slavery after burning down their homesteads, and then blaming it on Indians. These same criminals abduct white children within townships...children who wander too close to ships docked at port; taking them to sell in far away lands. At the same time, Alex meets another unfortunate time traveler and makes his nightmare even more horrendous when she tries to help him...finally realizing she can do nothing.
Personally I enjoyed this installment just as much as the previous four installments. The Graham children are growing into young adults now and a few of them are finding their own way in the world. Jacob is being schooled in Providence to become a lawyer's apprentice and eventually a lawyer...but he'd rather see the world. He stows away on a ship and heads out to the high sea's, much to the shame of his parents. Daniels' future is mapped out for him by his father, Matthew, and is sent to Boston to become a Minister. Ian faces many changes in his young life....from an unhappy marriage that eventually fails, to a horrible injury that brings him untold pain. There are hints of the younger children and their possible future vocations. One may become a healer/physician...another becomes the foster son to an Indian. Throughout this installment, Indian unrest is prevalent and the untold abuses they face are historically detailed by Ms. Belfrage. There are many births and rejoicing...as well as death and grief as the Graham's continue to build their life. This author has an excellent talent of conveying the enormous love and devotion that Matthew and Alex hold for each other. A perfect knack of relaying the velocity of their devotion. By the end of this installment, Matthew has changed from being the prey of the Burley brothers, to become the aggressor to his enemies. No longer does he go about his business with a watchful eye, waiting for the Burley brothers to attack him. He becomes the hunter.
How incredible are the emotions summoned by the force of these books. The feelings that they stir sometimes blind-sides me. Ms. Belfrage successfully spins such a compelling, emotional story of homesteaders, family, tribes, nations, customs, spirit, traditions and children. All the struggles of a new world. If you are looking for a saga of epic proportions; of historical facts intertwined with romance and fictitious characters (and a few historical correct characters as well..)..then begin at the beginning... (although Ms. Belfrage adeptly brings us up-to-date with each installment....this fifth installment could probably stand alone).
A couple observations that bring down the rating a star or two - this book relied heavily on segueing from one marital squabble and conflict to another. The flow of the book was not as smooth as in the others preceding it, it seemed like more of mish mash of what hare brained notion or arrogant rudeness will Matthew bring to the table next, oh and ooops here come the Burley brothers again to try to kill off the men folk and rape / kidnap the females. Her efforts to patch together Matthew or protect her kids seem to be the glue that holds this relationship together, that and the make up sex. Still an enjoyable book because I am hooked on the series. It also seems the books are much shorter & less & less marks a natural passage from one book to the next. With the length of the novels the series could have easily been combined into 2 or 3 books. But then there would have been fewer books to sell.
The Grahams, Alex, Matthew and their growing family have fled Scotland due to religious persecution of the Covenanters and have settled in colonial Maryland of the 17th century. Alex was born and raised in the late 20th and early 21st century but she found herself in a time warp at a crossroads during a terrible thunderstorm and ended up in the 17th century. She was found by Matthew Graham. She and Matthew took to each other like Mandarin ducks and they married and have had ten children, nine of whom survive. She seems to have adjusted remarkably well to life in the 17th century.
The Grahams have a farm in Maryland, prosperous at these things go. At the beginning of the book, Jacob, the eldest son is apprenticed to a lawyer in Providence, and a younger son, Daniel, is apprenticed to a minister in Boston. Jacob has a great yearning to go to sea and see the world. After marrying the lawyer’s daughter, Betty, in a “hand fast,” ceremony, contrary to her father’s wishes, he stows away on a ship bound for England. Poor Betty is soundly whipped and packed off to the Grahams.
Graham’s Garden, as the farm is called would be a paradise, but, as the title suggests, there are serpents in the garden. There are, of course, Indians, always a concern, and there are also the brothers Phillip, Walter and Steven Burley, scoundrels of the lowest sort. Matthew has killed their youngest brother in self-defense, and the surviving brothers have sworn revenge. Throughout the book the encounters between the Grahams and the Burleys become increasingly violent.
The family is also plagued by domestic strife. Matthew has a son, Ian, by his first marriage who is married to a woman named Jenny and lives on a nearby farm. Jenny’s father, Peter, has married a much younger woman named Constance who is as nasty as they come and she and Jenny fight like cats. On top of that, their bond servant, Patrick, seduces Jenny and she becomes pregnant, not knowing whether the father is Patrick or Ian.
Serpents in the Garden is a very rich and engaging novel which held my interest throughout. I’m not a great fan of the use of time travel or other violations of the laws of physics in historical novels, but, as Diana Gabaldon might attest, there are many readers who are.