Title: The Angel of Bishopsgate (Book 1 in the Darker Cities Trilogy)
Author: Eloise Reuben
Publication date: February 19, 2019
Genre: Thriller, Historical Fiction
One Sentence Summary: When Tessie is targeted by the villainous Angel of Bishopsgate because of the mother she is estranged from, and torn away from her husband Finn, the young couple will do everything in their power to be reunited, and stay alive.
I’m not a big fan of historical fiction, but something about this one drew me in. It sounded really interesting and the excerpt Amazon provides really drew me in. I was really interested in how things would turn out knowing Tessie and Finn would be torn apart. I hoped they would do everything in their power to be reunited, and I absolutely was not disappointed. This is a beautiful novel centered around the strength of one young couple and the lengths they’ll go to not just stay alive, but to be together. Of course, the mystery and thriller part of it was exceptional and kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time.
The Plot: Centered on Family
In 1848, The Angel of Bishopsgate looms over everyone in certain parts of London. His men are everywhere, and it’s either follow his orders or die. Tessie, a runaway from Dublin just managing to scrape by with Finn in the Old Nichol slums, has no idea why he wants her, or what it has to do with the mother she left behind in Dublin 8 years ago, but she just wants to stay alive and Finn just wants to protect her.
It all starts when Moses, one of the Angel’s men, forces Tessie to meet a man and retrieve a necklace. It doesn’t go well and Tessie ends up seriously injured, separated from Finn, and in the company of an enigma of a man called Kyran. She rushes back home despite being in no physical shape for it, only to find Finn missing. Desperate to be reunited and to have the Angel’s death order for her cancelled, she sails back to Dublin with Kyran and his friend Ruby, only to find a more complex and dangerous web that will bring her face to face with the Angel, and the truth of her mother.
Meanwhile, Finn is on the run from the Angel’s men. A fellow Irishman named Mickey comes to his rescue, but they find themselves working for a man they hope will help them rise against the Angel, though he seems just a little too overeager. With the help of a little girl named Madochee, they navigate the twists and turns of the lowest of slums in London and beyond, fighting for their lives and freedom.
This wasn’t exactly fast-paced, but felt fast-paced. Each step was measured and each plot point was smoothly reached, but I’m also positive the e-pages of my Kindle flew under my hands. There were so many secrets, so many twists, so many webs, so many machinations. Yet it wasn’t overwhelming. This story was exceptionally well-told, felt very lifelike, and told a complete story while also leading smoothly into the next book in the trilogy. It’s a story of family and a story of friendship and love. There’s mystery and thrills, and I’m pretty sure my heart was thumping all over the place in my chest.
The most fascinating part, though, was the family angle. The whole story is really something of a family affair. Secrets and identities are slowly, tantalizingly, revealed throughout the novel. It was breathtaking to read.
The Characters: Absolute Perfection and Believable
The characters were so spot on. From the way they spoke, behaved, and dressed, it was absolute perfection. They helped transport me to 1800s London, made me think I was hearing their accents in my head. They felt so lifelike I started to wonder if they were actually real at one point.
I loved that they made mistakes, that they had consequences they had to live with. Nothing was easy, nothing was freely given. They all led hard lives, complicated lives, and it spun them into the people they were.
The relationship between Tessie and Finn was so achingly perfect. They were so beautiful together and apart. I love how their love can overcome anything, how they’re so sure of each other that it makes it possible for them to do anything. Their devotion was incredible, even in the face of certain death. I don’t think I’ve ever loved a couple as much as I love them.
But the one that really melted my heart was the one between Finn and Madochee. Their meeting was by chance, but was exactly what they needed. The trust Madochee places in Finn’s hands was scary and heartwarming, and the fact that they formed such a strong, unlikely bond speaks volumes about Finn. I wouldn’t mind reaching in and plucking him out for myself.
The Setting: 1800s London and Dublin
The book is split between London and Dublin. As it’s historical fiction, which isn’t my forte, I couldn’t say if it’s accurate, but Reuben’s writing certainly brought it to life to me. Whenever I picked it up again, I was just transported back into 1800s London and Dublin. It was gritty and harsh, full of pain that made my heart hurt, but I know enough to know that was reality back then. I didn’t feel Reuben skimped on anything, likely making it as true to reality as possible.
From glittery upper crust halls to the mud and dirt of slums, The Angel of Bishopsgate is in part a tour of 1848 London and Dublin, showcasing the differences in wealth and the stranglehold power has. I felt like I was walking all the different streets with Tessie and Finn. But it all fit perfectly into the story like that one puzzle piece needed to complete the picture.
Overall: A Fantastic Historical Thriller
As historical fiction, The Angel of Bishopsgate absolutely delivered on the historical and fiction. As a mystery and thriller, it definitely had a strong mystery component that was absolutely thrilling. Put together, it made for a breathtaking novel full of atmosphere and danger. The characters were either endearing or felt like people I wouldn’t mind taking down, too. At the same time, they were understandable and had their own weaknesses. This is a complex novel with pieces that work brilliantly together, from the amazing characters to the breathtaking story to the wild adventures across Dublin and London. Definitely an historical fiction novel I’m glad to have read!
Great if you enjoy: realistic historical fiction, mystery and thriller, strong romantic couple, family secrets, plot twists, strong character development, strong world building
Not great if you’re looking for: romance, fast-paced and action-packed stories, glossed over historical accuracy, plot-driven stories
How many cups of tea will you need?
5 cups, definitely
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Thank you to the author, Eloise Reuben, for a free e-copy. All opinions expressed are my own.