Posted by: Jeanie F | November 27, 2010

The Wolves of Andover by Kathleen Kent

Kathleen Kent’s new novel, The Wolves of Andover, is the prequel to her first novel, The Heretic’s Daughter. Set in 1673 Massachussetts, this is not only the story of how Matthew and Martha Carrier, the parents in Heretic’ Daughter, met and married, but of the brutally harsh environment and life in the early American colonies.

While Kent has loosely based both of these novels on her own family history, she has done her homework in setting the scene. In fact, the setting is so prominent that it could almost be considered the antagonist, as the characters struggle to survive in this austere place and time.

Martha, a spinster at age nineteen, is sent from her home in Andover to nearby Billerica to work as a servant to her cousin, Patience. Here she meets Thomas Carrier, working for her cousin’s husband in exchange for the promise of land. When a pair of roaming wolves threatens her cousin’s home, Martha and Thomas begin to forge a bond. From this point their story emerges as their courtship begins to develop.

However, Thomas has a mysterious past, which becomes evident as the novel progresses. The story moves back and forth between the New England setting and Britain, where King Charles II longs to avenge his father’s death at the hands of Oliver Cromwell. Charles II hires a band of loutish killers to travel to The Colonies to search out those he believes responsible, Cromwell supporters who have been successfully hidden by the colonists. Thomas’s role – which was revealed in Heretic’s Daughter – makes him a prime target.

There are places where this subplot pulls the story off course and has a detrimental effect on its overall success. Having said that, it also adds a level of suspense that helps the story rise above that of a romance novel. The historical accuracy and the detailed look at family life in the early colonies makes it a fascinating read. Anyone who read and enjoyed The Heretic’s Daughter should find this prequel equally satisfying.

Grade: B+

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