Serpents in the Garden

Written by Anna Belfrage
Review by Christoph Fischer

Serpents in the Garden by Anna Belfrage is a historical novel with a time-slip twist, the fifth in the Graham Saga series about Alex, a modern-day woman who is stuck in 17th-century Maryland, and her family.

Married to Matthew Graham, she has by now adapted to her new surroundings and has grown-up children who are ready to leave the nest and make their own mark in the world.

It is probably advisable to read the previous books in the saga to fully appreciate the characters and the complex background for each of their storylines. Although Belfrage does a splendid job at introducing each character, I often felt I had missed out by not reading the previous novels.

Having said that, the book is a well-crafted family saga with a great setting and it includes some interesting historical facts and aspects which were new and fascinating to me. The book keeps up the tension by switching between the storylines, always maintaining an air of suspense.

As with most epics, this book has plenty of romance and drama. I most enjoyed the plot concerning the threatening Burley brothers and their impact on the Graham family, and as European, I found the information contained about slaves, Native Indians and colonial society most fascinating.

Perfectly infused with the flavour of the 17th century but with the occasional modern perspective by Alex, this should please readers of family epics and 17th-century history alike.