Friday, September 7, 2012
Quarantine by John Smolens
Author: John Smolens
Publication Date: September 5, 2012
Length: 336 pages
In the late 18th century, a ship pulls into the harbour at Newburyport. The people on the ship have come down with a terrible fever, so the ship is put under quarantine. But the sailors are idiots, so some of them sneak ashore anyway, and before you know it people all over town are getting sick, and most of them are dying. Since this is the 18th century, none of the doctors really understand science, so they argue about things like bloodletting, while one doctor thinks that the fever is God's punishment for sinners, so they shouldn't be treated (which makes me wonder why he became a doctor). Add in some people who see an opportunity for profit in the city's dire situation, and you've got plenty of characters to be mad at, and an enjoyable story.
Right from the start of this book, I loved the writing, and I quickly grew attached to several of the main characters, particularly Leander and Giles. The fever itself is rather terrifying, and it's so frustrating knowing that if it happened today, at least there would be doctors who could diagnose it and know what to do to treat it!
This is not an uplifting book. LOTS of people die. There's not much in the way of science, due to it being the 18th century, so there's a lot of blundering about, desperately trying to stop the constant death. But I didn't really feel depressed while reading it, either. It's emotional, powerful, and a definite page-turner.
Full disclosure: Free e-book copy received from the publisher through NetGalley.