After her life is turned upside down as a child, Lydia Pallas battled back and used her incredible intelligence to create a new life for herself. Having gained a position as a translator for the Navy, she focuses on creating stability in her life. All of that will be changed with the acceptance of an offer from Alexander Banebridge.
Against The Tide
by Elizabeth Camden
During his childhood, Alexander Banebridge, or Bane as he chooses to be called, was delivered into a life of control and imprisonment by the Professor. The Professor had spent years creating a very elaborate criminal system, dealing specifically in the trade of opium. After escaping the control of the Professor through freedom in Christ, Bane has made it his life’s work to destroy the opium trade.
In order to find the information he needs, Bane enlists Lydia’s help to translate documents. This is the only way that Bane will be able to gain the upper hand in his quest and stop the Professor for good. What follows is a journey through intrigue and political roadblocks, with a little love thrown in for good measure.
When I started the novel, I am not really sure what I was expecting. As the city of Boston is one of my great loves, I picked this book up based on the setting for the novel. Since Camden focuses mainly on story and not scenery, it’s important to note that there are not a great deal of long descriptive passages in the novel. There is also very little in the way of history of the characters. You get glimpses into their pasts, but it is just enough to keep you from wondering why they have ended up as they have. Camden explains their tales in a very straightforward way and focuses on the present tense.
That’s the only small quibble I have with the novel. I am a reader driven by the history and the motivation of characters. I like for this to remain a bit hidden, to be revealed through actions and climatic points in the novel. If you are a reader who likes the information to be given up front and without preamble, then this novel will work well for you.
That being said, I also allow work to stand on its own merit outside of my personal likes as a reader. Camden’s story has enough tension to keep you reading, and the story is fast-paced. There was no point in my reading where I had a desire to skip pages because of dragging story line. Her focus is primarily on driving forward, which is a great aspect to her writing.
Another high point for Camden is that she has created a strong female character in Lydia Pallas. There are few things that will turn me away from a book faster than a female character who withers in the face of adversity. Lydia faces adversity at every turn and refuses to back down from any challenge that Camden creates for her. From childhood through the end of the novel, Lydia has to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds in order to come out on top at the end.
And in the end: she does.
Robin Gwaro is a founding book review blogger at Bookgateway.com and has generously supplied this review. She describes herself as “a woman just trying to keep it all together. Most days, I have the juggling act down! Others, I have the broom and dustpan handy to clean up the mess. My life is not always easy, it is not always neat, but it is always worth every minute!” Her personal blog is Just Wandering. Not Lost.
This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.