To quote (sort of) The Most Interesting Man in the World, “I don’t always read about The English Civil War, but when I do, I like to read about Hollie (Rosie) Babbitt.” This is book 5 in the Uncivil War series by M.J. Logue and I continue to be impressed with the style, the language, the plot lines and the development of the characters. The author brings to life what the war did to both sides in this edition as the Parliamentarian’s take control of Cornwall, a region that would rather not be part of either side in the war. Colonel Babbitt returns to the fray much to the chagrin of Het, his wife and this rough, professional soldier must battle not only a siege but also his tangled emotions. The manner in which he finally understands and the healing of his troubled mind comes from a most unusual source; I will say no more on that other than I was entranced by this portion of the story. Also intriguing is the relationship between Hapless, the Brat and Rosie…it just gets better with every book. Hoover Book Reviews highly recommends this very entertaining series. 5 stars.
For those of you keeping score, this is the fourth book of the series but chronologically it falls before the third book. This one revolves around the Battle of Selby militarily, and the plight and antics of Thankful Russell, Trooper Gray and Cornet Luce Pettit, along with a smattering of homelife for Rosie Babbitt and his good wife Het. As this is the fourth volume, I have had ample time to adjust to and admire the author’s somewhat unique writing style and have come to love the way she uses the local dialects and patois of the characters in the books to the point where I have found myself thinking in Drew Venning’s Norfolk idiom or Hollie’s Puritan voice. Not a bad thing, but can be detrimental when writing work related emails and words like summat or nowt or the term Thee want to creep into the missive. 🙂 The Selby battle is brilliantly portrayed from the perspectives of Hollie and the three “amigos”, Thankful, Gray and Luce. The chaos of a cavalry charge in the confines of town streets, the brutality of pikemen versus longswords and battle bred horses and the twists of fate are high points in the story’s telling. Another salient aspect of the author’s skill is the continuing growth and development of her characters. Poignant and exciting, The Smoke of Her Burning is an excellent addition to this wonderful series. 5 stars
Let me start out this review by stating that I absolutely loved the first two books in the series and wondered if the author would continue to elicit my love in book number 3. It is the opinion of this humble, yet somewhat revered scribbler of reviews, that M.J. Logue has risen above the rather high expectations I had for Wilderness of Sin. This is a war story that, while it does provide excellent accounts of the battles and sieges, is more in the way of a delving into what makes people tick kind of a story. The author has given us wonderfully drawn characters, Hollie and the others who have been around from the beginning of the war are changing. Some are maturing, such as Thankful and Luce, some are more hardened, Fairfax, and some are relinquishing their irascible exterior, Hollie. Regardless of the changes, the character development is what makes this book sing. I think the best chapter in the book has nothing to do with the war, in fact it takes place in Het’s garden as Thankful or Hapless or Apple, as he is called by a precocious toddler, and the self same toddler engage in eating bugs. It is a chapter I would loved to have written myself. 🙂 5 stars without a doubt.
Entry number two in this fascinating series continues the struggle known as The English Civil War. At least that’s the major backdrop to the tale. What the author has crafted is a tale of relationships, not just the evolving respect between Hollie and Luce, but also Hollie’s relationships with Het, Elijah(Hollie’s father) and Oliver Cromwell. Holly will always be a cantankerous cuss but there are other sides to him that show signs of shedding the hardened shell he wears. The story rolls seamlessly through the historical events and you get the sense of being there in the cold, the mud and the heat, all mostly experienced in the idle boredom inherent in a sporadically fought war. Though it may have been boring for the characters, it was during those times that the verbal by play and introspection shine through the narrative.
To use the parlance of the times, it is a cracking read. 5 stars