The majority of historical fiction novels I have read have women as the main characters, but every once in a while I get the urge to read a good old fashioned adventure story about a male character trying to make his way in the world. I enjoyed reading The Bitter Trade so much because Calumny Spinks wasn’t a lord, or anything really noble, just a poor man’s son who wants to be apprenticed into a trade and eventually earn the title of “Mister” and secure his place in society. These are big dreams for our 17 year old protagonist but he’s got a cunning mind and he’s actually one of those characters who reveals his true self, in terms of strengths and weaknesses in layers. I liked that Calumny was a character I saw evolve.
The story was a thrilling one. There was mystery, political intrigue, betrayal and treason afoot. I never knew where the story was headed, and I enjoyed the thrill of trying to figure it out. London in the 1600s on the brink of a revolution was a dangerous place to be, and the way Piers Alexander depicted it was brilliant. The sights, sounds and smells (let’s face it, London didn’t smell great then) all came alive for me in the reading of this extremely well written debut. I wait to see how the story continues.
I’d recommend this novel for all those who enjoy historical fiction but want to really delve into the London underbelly of the 1600s with a great cast of characters, and a fascinating story that is both easy to follow and enthralling.