At 360 pages of story Shadow Patriots is not particularly long, especially when you consider that the time period it covers runs from July 1776 to MarAt 360 pages of story Shadow Patriots is not particularly long, especially when you consider that the time period it covers runs from July 1776 to March or so of 1781. It tells the story of the main years of the American Revolution in episodic form mostly through the eyes of the heroine, Kate Darby, and her younger brother Seth. Kate Darby ended up being 355, a female spy with Samuel Culper's ring. Many other famous names of the Revolution make appearences, as well.
Kate is the daughter of a wealthy Quaker merchant living in Philadelphia when the war begins. Because the family is Quaker, they are not allowed to take a side in the conflict, but this leads to the impression among patriotic Philadelphians that her family is actually Tory. The situation isn't helped any when the British occupy Philadelphia and Major John Andre is quartered at her father's house.
Kate has a younger brother named Seth, who doesn't let his religious beliefs stop him from taking sides, however. He's only 14 when he runs away to join the Continental Army at the encampment at Valley Forge. Kate goes to visit Seth at the camp and brings him food, clothes and blankets, which help him survive. However, she contracts typhus during one of the visits and is sent off to a hospital where everyone believes she died. When she recovers, she returns to her home in Philadelphia to find the British have evacuated the city and the patriots have targeted the house for burning, as the home of a Tory family.
Escaping the city, she follows the British baggage train in search of her family who have fled along with the Redcoat army. Eventually she reunites with them in New York where they lodge with a business associate of her father's, who happens to be a Tory. Meanwhile, Seth has been sent on various spy missions after participating in the Battle of Monmouth.
In New York, Kate meets Robert Townsend, another Quaker who has managed to get into the spying business somewhat in spite of himself. Eventually she is drawn into it too. She and Robert marry and carry out their information gathering which Robert writes up as reports in invisible ink and has smuggled out of the British-occupied city. Eventually these reports get to George Washington.
I won't say any more about where the story goes-- and I have left a lot out. I'll only say this is definitely a historical novel and not a romance novel. You can make of that what you will.
I recommend reading it for the period detail. It's really quite amazing what all the author was able to work into this. Did you know George Washington played with a yo-yo to relieve stress? You do now!
There's also quite a bit of humour worked into it. I found myself LOLing at several parts. I'll give you an example of what I thought was the funniest passage. In this scene Count Rochambeau has just landed with the French fleet at Newport and is expecting to be met with American cheers and fanfare. However he finds the town deserted and boarded up. The first person he comes across is a drunk who takes him back to the local tavern, the Lusty Oyster.
A dozen or more topers sat on stools in the smoke-thick room lit by a few guttering oil lamps. Decades if soot had blackened the low beams of the ceiling, and the aroma of tobacco permeated the wood. The serving wench put a tankard of beer in the American's hand as soon as he walked through the door.
"What did you say your name was?" Rochambeau's new friend asked.
"Jean Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, comte de Rochambeau."
"Non." The savoir of America enunciated carefully. "Row-sham-bow."
The American raised his tankard for attention. "Lads, meet Mr. Rush'Em Boys." He waved his tankard and christened Rochambeau's new name by spilling beer down the front of the count's uniform. "Him and his chums are Frogs."
I suppose if I had any criticism to make it would be that the author manages to place her OCs quite conveniently at times so that they'll be witnesses to certain historical events. I guess you have to do that if you want to portray said events, but sometimes I found myself wondering at the plausibility. For example, when Kate is living in Philadelphia, it just so happens that her family's house is chosen to house Andre's superior officer, and thus Andre himself. This leads Peggy Shippen (who eventually became Benedict Arnold's wife) to try to become friends with Kate, since she wants to get to know the handsome Andre. I recognise that the author had to do this to establish things that come up later, and yes, it's plausible, but it somehow struck me as contrived.
I suppose this is also because I've been researching the same period for my own story, so with a lot of things, I recognised the names and the person's significance before whatever important event happened (e. g. I recognised Peggy Shippen as the future Mrs. Benedict Arnold the first time she was mentioned; I also recongnised Molly Pitcher's real name when she appeared at Valley Forge, and thus knew the characters were going to be involved in the Battle of Monmouth at some point).
I didn't let that get in the way of my enjoyment of the book, though. I think it's pretty obvious that I liked it since I ripped through it so fast. I will also add that I cried at the end. ...more