Two Minute Review: The Freemason's Daughter by Shelley Sackier

Wednesday, July 5, 2017
Title: The Freemason's Daughter
Author: Shelley Sackier
Genre: historical fiction
Series: N/A
Pages: 384
Published: April 11 2017
Source: publishers via edelweiss
Rating: 3.75/5

The Outlander series for the YA audience—a debut, full of romance and intrigue, set in early eighteenth-century Scotland.

Saying good-bye to Scotland is the hardest thing that Jenna MacDuff has had to do—until she meets Lord Pembroke. Jenna’s small clan has risked their lives traveling the countryside as masons, secretly drumming up support and arms for the exiled King James Stuart to retake the British throne. But their next job brings them into enemy territory: England.

Jenna’s father repeatedly warns her to trust no one, but when the Duke of Keswick hires the clan to build a garrison on his estate, it seems she cannot hide her capable mind from the duke’s inquisitive son, Lord Alex Pembroke—nor mask her growing attraction to him. But there’s a covert plan behind the building of the garrison, and soon Jenna must struggle not only to keep her newfound friendship with Alex from her father, but also to keep her father’s treason from Alex.

Will Jenna decide to keep her family’s mutinous secrets and assist her clan’s cause, or protect the life of the young noble she’s falling for?

In Shelley Sackier’s lush, vivid historical debut, someone will pay a deadly price no matter which choice Jenna makes.

Though The Freemason's Daughter is being billed as the YA version of Outlander, Shelley Sackier's historical fiction novel about a found-family of displaced Scottish Jacobites in England feels entirely her own, especially since it lacks the time travel aspect that feature so prominently in Diana Gabaldon's long-running series. Sackier's story may be smaller in scope, but the story is brisk, engaging, and rich. With the strong, stubborn, educated main character of Jenna MacDuff at the center, Sackier brings together plots both political and romantic to create a lively, atmospheric look into the eighteenth century.

A lot of The Freemason's Daughter is done rather well. The characters, for the most part, are complexly drawn and create emotion, the plot is interesting and well paced, and there's a lot of detail -- making it easy to see the world as Jenna or Lord Pembroke does. However one area that was lacking throughout the novel's ups and downs was a genuine feeling of tension and suspense. Despite the death penalty that looms over Jenna, her father, and the other members of their clan for their Jacobite partisanship, it's hard to feel a sense or urgency or pressure. Until the very end there's very little real sense of danger. The ending itself is also rather abrupt.

I had a few issues with the story's progression and conclusion, but overall I rather liked The Freemason's Daughter and its cast of characters -- enough to rate it 3.75/5.

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