A Time to Fight
Once a grenadier in the Royal Army, Will Sturt returns home to Goudhurst, England, after four years of fighting. Much has changed, but so has he. His ailing mother resides in the poor house. Smugglers terrorize the town. The law is either afraid or in the pay of the smugglers; the army is stretched too thin and dealing with a threat of invasion to the north. Will knows the troublemakers; the Kingsmill brothers, who lead the Hawkhurst Gang, tormented him as a child. After the murder of his friend’s father-in-law, he is no longer willing to back away from a fight. Not everyone supports his plan to end the rape, pillaging, and maiming, and they urge him to stop riling the smugglers. Only a handful of brave, but untrained, men and women step forward. One is taken, tortured, and returned with a message: cease and desist or face the consequences in three days: 21 April 1747.
This fictional account of the Battle of Goudhurst encapsulates a mere ten days, yet what these courageous people achieve has real lasting effects. The story begins with an overabundance of description, but once the murder occurs, the pace picks up and the tale becomes a race against time. Story threads are neatly tied up, but the narrative contains numerous formatting errors, duplicate words, unnecessary repetition, and missing punctuation. The novel’s strengths are the arresting account of the preparations, training, fighting, and aftermath of what happened, and the way Aubin breathes life into the real people who defend their town. Perhaps most interesting is the afterword, which reveals the history behind the novel.