Monday, September 24, 2012

Review: Quarantine by John Smolens

Quarantine takes place in the town of Newburyport, Massachusetts  in the year 1796. A ship arrives whose crew has suffered and continues to suffer losses from a mysterious illness. There is hope of containment, but it slips away as the boats row away from the ship under cover of night. Soon people in the town become ill. As the epidemic spreads, fear, greed, and instances of mob rule become common place.

Quarantine is basically well written. The characters you should like, no matter their flaws, are likable. The villains are not. Physician Giles Wiggins who quarantines the port and establishes a pest house to isolate the sick from the rest of the population and Leander Hatch are particularly well developed. Particularly unlikable is the black marketeer from Boston.

While the book basically delivers what it has promised, it does have flaws. The pacing in Part I is faster than the rest of the book. And much of the action seems to be described as if from at a distance.

The inclusion of the nastiness by the religious fanatics was perfect. This would be especially true I think in New England where just a century before they had hung the last witches to be hung in America to the south of  Newburyport in Salem.

The bits and pieces of romance were not really well developed, but were a nice touch. I didn't really see Enoch, Giles brother, vying much for Marie as he was indisposed much of the time due to drink. Giles on the other hand was quite taken with her and it showed.

Apart from the sickness finally ending, there are surprises to the ending of the book. It was somewhat unpredictable, yet believable, which made it more enjoyable.

I gave this book 3 out of 5 stars.

Disclaimer: I was provided with an advance copy of this book to provide my unbiased opinion.