To Catch a Falling Star

Written by Anna Belfrage
Review by Nicky Galliers

This being the eighth, and last, of a series did make me feel some trepidation as I started reading, as I wondered if I would not understand what was going on, having not read the previous volumes. And yes, there was an element of that as there were constant references to events that had happened several books ago – but there was enough detail to be able to enjoyably follow the backstory of the family, and why they were where they were at the beginning of this novel.

Anna Belfrage is an accomplished writer and has created some fantastic characters, ones that you really do feel she is emotionally attached to: especially the main character, Alex. Her passion for these people is in every line she writes. Alex is a time-traveller who ‘fell’ back in time from modern day to the seventeenth century and there is plenty of her modern persona left within her seventeenth century lifestyle to make her very vivid and likeable. The people around her, her family and friends, are equally well drawn, and when one of them meets an unfortunate end there are stirrings of George R. Martin (Game of Thrones); if that can happen, then no one is safe!

A reference to Legolas (Lord of the Rings) made me laugh out loud as a joke that only Alex and the reader could possibly appreciate. Seventeenth-century Alex is forced to return to Scotland where she lived before she ended up in Maryland, and she resents the translation back to somewhere she no longer feels a connection with. The story plays out with rounded human characters set against a delightful two-dimensional evil.

There is plenty of real history here to fulfil the most ardent of historical fiction lovers; the period of the end of James II and the advent of William and Mary is not one I know at all well, but both sides of the argument were put forward with sympathetic tact, with the political situation clearly portrayed and the reader left to make up their own mind as to which king would have been better for England. There is a decided switch in religions as well; the predominant, accepted Catholicism of the deposed James II gives way almost over-night to the Protestantism of William and Mary.

Ms Belfrage has woven a magical story, and it is a pity that I entered her realm at so late a stage. As a stand-alone novel, To Catch A Falling Star is perfectly satisfactory, but I suspect to start at the very beginning of this saga, this eighth novel would become a glorious finale and a very satisfying end of the adventure treat.