The guillotine on the front cover of this novel stands as an ominous reminder of one of the darkest periods of European history – The French Revolution. This novel is particularly interesting because it is told in the vantage point of view of the poor and the revolutionaries instead of the nobles whose lives were at constant risk – an interesting change. At the heart of the story is Camille, a writer and revolutionary, and close friend to Robespierre and other influential political figures of the time. This fascinating character is bold, often outrageous, a risk taker that had me shaking my head at his bold bravado. His written word on the political climate stirs carries might and stirs up public sentiment. He gains fame and notoriety, but his writing often leads to lost lives in the terror. As his actions return to haunt him, he must come to terms with his actions.
Author Katherine Pym has written an intensely gripping novel of a time of true terror, where victims were sentenced to death on the whim of an incomplete and incompetent judicial system. She does not sugar-coat the realities of that terrible time and gives us insight as to the true terror and implications of all those who suffered. Starvation, poverty, greed, power-lust, betrayal, and a good love story garnish the pages of this very poignant novel. One cannot help but be moved. It is an excellent example of historical fiction at its best.