Tag Archives: aubrey hansen

Book Review: Peter’s Angel

Peter's Angel - Final FrontIt’s been over a year since Aubrey Hansen published her first novel. Now she’s back, just like Ah-nuld. And she’s stepping up her game.

Peter’s Angel is historical fiction with a twist. It takes place in the aftermath of a lost War for Independence, following young Lord Peter Jameson as he struggles to protect the small patriot state of Rhode Island from the greedy hands of New Britain.

This is alternate history at its most intriguing, and for the most part, Aubrey pulls it off beautifully. Against this backdrop, she sets in motion an invasion, a kidnapping, a rescue, and a love story. And that’s only the beginning.

W. Somerset Maugham once said that “only a mediocre writer is always at his best,” and I think it’s safe to say that Aubrey’s style have improved since her debut. Make no mistake: I think Red Rain is a great read. But I also think Peter’s Angel blows it right out of the water.

For one thing, it’s more ambitious. You could say the stakes have been raised. There’s a boldness to the characters, a thematic and dramatic depth to the story, which clearly marks Aubrey’s growth as a storyteller. There are a couple of places where the story drags, but the plotting is generally tight, and the large cast is well-managed. The main characters – particularly Peter, Nathan, and Mark – are more complex than you might initially think. If book one is any indication, I’m willing to bet on some fascinating character development as the rest of the series runs its course.

That’s right, I said “series.” Peter’s Angel is the first book in a proposed trilogy. As such, I think it will be even stronger when considered alongside its sequels. There’s room for growth here, because the story isn’t over. Aubrey has started something big, and I’m eager to see where she goes with it.

There were some things about the writing which bugged me – nothing major, just little quirks that stood out to me. For instance, I didn’t care for the repeated use of “what if” paragraphs (silly name, I know, but I’m not sure what else to call them). Example:

Were the soldiers prepared for battle? What if the British outnumbered them? What if Peter didn’t get the message to pull back? What if the they wouldn’t accept Stephen’s plea for a ceasefire?

That kind of internal monologuing is fine in moderation, but it appears more frequently in the story than I would’ve liked.

Thankfully, the good far outweighs the bad here. Peter’s Angel gets an enthusiastic recommendation from me. It’s a promising start to a potentially epic series, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed for part two.

Book Review: Red Rain

Government regulations said they had no choice. Seventeen-year-old Philadelphia must stay on Earth in the hands of complete strangers while her father is sent to Mars to work on a top-priority science project.  When a Martian leader pulls some strings at the last moment and allows her to accompany her father, she knows she must keep her head down or be sent back to Earth. Unfortunately, things seldom go as planned…

When a search for her deceased brother’s belongings causes her to stumble into a hallway that isn’t supposed to exist, Philadelphia is faced with a question she doesn’t want to answer – the choice between returning to Earth or destroying it.

Aubrey’s Hansen’s debut novella Red Rain burst onto the scene in early September to favorable reviews. My interest in the premise – coupled with the fact that I’m fairly well acquainted with the author – compelled me to read the story for myself. And I wasn’t disappointed.

Red Rain takes place in a futuristic dystopia, where Earth is run by a single, worldwide government: “United”. Christians are regarded as outcasts, marked for persecution and discrimination. Most are forced to attend special “re-education” camps. Those who choose to compromise are welcomed back into society; those who don’t are subject to greater hardship than ever. “Assimilated or removed,” as the saying goes.

It’s a superb backdrop for an interesting tale, and Aubrey handles it all quite well. The plot is briskly paced, cutting from one scene to the next with economic precision: kudos to the author for keeping the story on track and not allowing herself to be distracted.

The small cast of characters is well-rounded and memorable, from the young heroine Phillidelphia to the coniving Dr. Nic. The prose is generally tight, clean, and devoid of clutter; and Aubrey demonstrates a remarkable talent for crafting smooth dialogue. There were some lines here and there which came across as a bit melodramatic, and one or two scenes which I thought could’ve used polishing; these, however, are minor complaints when considering the overall excellence of the book.

The primary theme of the book is the danger of compromise, as Phillidelphia is tempted multiple times to renounce her faith and choose the “easier” path. I appreciated Aubrey’s inclusion of this, as it lent the story substance and gravitas that would otherwise have been lacking.

I might add that there is nothing – no indecency, no bloody violence, no cussing – to make this book unsuitable for younger readers. I enjoyed it, and yet I would have no reservation about handing it to my 9-year-old brother. It’s an all ages type of read.

In conclusion, therefore, I highly recommend Red Rain. It’s a fun, clean, and engaging little piece of fiction – the perfect way to spend a quiet afternoon with a cup of tea and your own imagination. Rumor has it there are a couple of sequels in the works. I hope such is the case: Aubrey Hansen has shown us why we should pay attention to her, and I look forward to reading more from her pen.