Author: C. L. Fagan
ISBN: 978-1-60860-416-6
Publisher: Eloquent Books

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In Lightning Strikes the Colonies author C. L. Fagan blends history with speculative fiction, in this yarn about a woman transported back in time, and her participation in some momentous events in history.

Young historical researcher Linda Hutchinson sets out on a long drive in present day America, only to be freakishly struck by lightning. When she recovers she finds herself in the Philadelphia of the 1700s, in the home of Benjamin Franklin himself. What follows is a series of encounters between Linda and several soon-to-be historic figures of American history, as she tries (though not too hard) to conceal her identity and merge into the social fabric until Franklin can figure out how to get her home.

This is less sci-fi than it is historical drama. Fagan paints a competent portrait of American society at a time when British monarchy was still recognized, and practices like slavery, belief in witchcraft and restrictions on the lives and behaviour of women were commonplace. Understandably, Linda manages to shock, offend or flirt with a rather wide cast of characters still unaware of their contribution to history. By the time she has insulted Will Franklin, stolen a kiss from George Washington and put a blush in a teenaged Paul Revere’s cheek with her provocative banter, you can’t help feeling sorry for the characters who must endure this brash, impetuous –but ultimately, believable – woman struggling to fit into a society she cannot understand, at a time as exciting as it is dangerous for her to speak her mind.

The book positions itself at an interesting time in history when the idea of a free America is still frowned upon, and even the future fathers of American liberty aggressively support allegiance to the British. A young Samuel Adams has just begun to foment unrest with his talk of freedom, and the prevailing public sentiment seems not to favor him. Does Linda’s unwitting presence tip the scales in his favor? Have her words and ideas any contribution in shaping Franklin’s or Washington’s views? Fagan explores these themes and characters with humour and a keen eye for historical detail.

Clearly the first in a series, this book is more focused on establishing characters than building plot. As a result, it does suffer a lag in pace midway, as the story moves from one meeting to another between Linda and yet another character still distant from their destiny. Perhaps the plot will thicken with the second in the series – titled ‘Enlightening strikes England’ - where I expect Linda will take her blend of cheeky innuendo and abrasive plainspeak straight to the Queen’s door, as she helps further the cause of American freedom.

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