Book Tour Review: The Winter Siege by D.W. Bradbridge

Monday, January 27, 2014
Title: The Winter Siege
Author: D.W. Bradbridge
Genre: historical fiction
Series: Daniel Cheswis #1
Pages: 488
Published: September 2013
Source: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for review
Rating: 4/5

1643. The armies of King Charles I and Parliament clash in the streets and fields of England, threatening to tear the country apart, as winter closes in around the parliamentary stronghold of Nantwich. The royalists have pillaged the town before, and now, they are returning. But even with weeks to prepare before the Civil War is once more at its gates, that doesn’t mean the people of Nantwich are safe.

While the garrison of soldiers commanded by Colonel George Booth stand guard, the town’s residents wait, eyeing the outside world with unease, unaware that they face a deadly threat from within. Townspeople are being murdered – the red sashes of the royalists left on the bodies marking them as traitors to the parliamentary cause.

When the first dead man is found, his skull caved in with a rock, fingers start being pointed, and old hatreds rise to the surface. It falls to Constable Daniel Cheswis to contain the bloodshed, deputising his friend, Alexander Clowes, to help him in his investigations, carried out with the eyes of both armies on his back. And they are not the only ones watching him.

He is surrounded by enemies, and between preparing for the imminent battle, watching over his family, being reunited with his long-lost sweetheart, and trying, somehow, to stay in business, he barely has time to solve a murder.

With few clues and the constant distraction of war, can Cheswis protect the people of Nantwich? And which among them need protecting? Whether they are old friends or troubled family, in these treacherous times, everyone’s a traitor, in war, law, or love.
When the Winter Siege is through, who will be among the bodies?

It's a well-known fact that if you write and set your historical fiction in England, I am going to want to read it. Not knowing much else about The Winter Siege before going in, I was surprisingly and easily caught up in the author's version of 1640's Nantwich during a few pivotal weeks in the First English Civil War. Focusing on the rising tensions wrought by the the two sides in the Cheshire area (Royalists versus Parliamentarians), Bradbridge uses his fictionalized main character and investigator Daniel Cheswis to showcase the crucial events that occurred in those cold weeks surrounding the battle.

When I read a historical mystery, I am usually more drawn to the "historic" aspect. I never tire of reading about how people lived hundreds of years ago. And while I do enjoy a finely-wrought mystery, usually I am able to suss out the villain... which makes waiting for the main character to get there a bit of drag. But instead of reading like a hist fic with a mystery on the side, The Winter Siege is instead a convoluted, twisty mystery with a real sense of place and history. One that I could definitely not have figured out on my own. Red herrings, false clues abound to confuse and mislead our hero and the audience... this is an author that knows a mystery is all about careful planning and slow reveals.

As I am most at home with English history from about a hundred years before the start of this novel, I can't vouch for any level or degree of accuracy in the way the novel depicts the historical record. I can vouch for the fact that Bradbridge writes interesting characters, creates a encompassing atmosphere, and seems both passionate and knowledgeable about the time he is portraying. This is an another novel where reading the author's note at the end of the book really adds to my overall impression of the novel itself. I also liked that Bradbridge focused so closely on one town in this war. It was a far-reaching conflict across England, but watching it unfold in a microcosm was an effective narrative tool.

I say the characters are interesting, and they are. I liked the cast, I thought the villain has authentic agency and menace, Daniel is an nice mishmash of flaws and personality... but there could stand to be some more definition for the women in the novel. I wanted more from Alice, especially. I liked what the author did with her ambiguity/past with Daniel, but she had little personal presence. She was more of a reminder to Daniel of what he had lost than a viable woman. She felt like a possession, not a person.

That minor caveat aside, The Winter Siege has a lot to recommend it. The mystery was the element I enjoyed the most and I think it will go on to fool and mislead many others as they read along with Daniel to uncover who the murderer is. 

(Bonus: it's currently only $2.99 for ebook if you're interested!)

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Virtual Book Tour Schedule

Monday, January 13
Review at Flashlight Commentary

Tuesday, January 14
Interview & Giveaway at Flashlight Commentary

Wednesday, January 15
Review & Giveaway at Broken Teepee

Thursday, January 16
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Friday, January 17
Guest Post & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books

Monday, January 20
Review at Closed the Cover

Tuesday, January 21
Giveaway at The Novel Life

Wednesday, January 22
Interview at Closed the Cover

Friday, January 24
Review at Griperang’s Bookmarks

Monday, January 27
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews

Tuesday, January 28
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book

Wednesday, January 29
Interview at Oh, for the Hook of a Book

Thursday, January 30
Guest Post & Giveaway at To Read or Not to Read

Monday, February 3
Review at Confessions of an Avid Reader

Tuesday, February 4
Review at Book Nerd

Wednesday, February 5
Review at The Most Happy Reader

Friday, February 7
Giveaway at Bibliophilic Book Blog

Monday, February 10
Review at Reading the Ages

Tuesday, February 11
Review at Carole’s Ramblings

Thursday, February 13
Review at Just One More Chapter

Friday, February 14
Guest Post at HF Connection

1 comment:

  1. Great review. I was slightly curious about this one -- war novels aren't totally my thing unless it's all about the women, so I appreciate your comments about the female character. But I do enjoy historical mysteries (and unlike you, I don't end up guessing the villain!) so this one would be quite engrossing, I suspect!


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