John Smolens – Quarantine

In 1796, a trading ship arrives in Newburyport, Massachusetts. The captain’s missing, crewmembers struck┬áby a virulent fever. Vomit and shit create more victims in Newburyport. Upon inspection of the ship, doctor Giles Wiggins places the ship and port under quarantine and tries to find the source for the virus. His half-brother Enoch Summer, owner of the ship and their mother Miranda aren’t pleased at all with the situation. Horses for Thomas Jefferson need to stay on the ship, commerce falls silent and more and more victims are brought to a pest-house, some die others set fires to escape misery.

The harbormaster’s family falls victim to the fever, except for his son, Leander Hatch, who is taken in at the Sumner mansion. He turns out to be a rebel. A ┬ábeautiful French woman named Marie Montpelier is rescued out of the Merrimack River, causing both Giles and Enoch fall in love. A man from Boston stockpiles medical supplies and charges a high price.

The novel or historical thriller if you want takes you along the dark circumstance in the harbour, where love and hope ultimately prevail, but death, dishonour and broken families are the sacrificies at the Revolutionary War-era Atlantic coast. The author of Quarantine, John Smolens‘ work on the book began 40 years ago, when he moved to a federalist house built in the 1790s in Newburyport. In the years that followed he came to know every inch of the house and the rich history of this harbour.

The novel isn’t an easy to read and put away book. Quarantine contains a lot of historic and maritime details, plus a set of interwoven personages. Only at the end, in a lengthy Epilogue, some clues are found. Characters could be worked out better, both at the vessel as in town. I found it hard sometimes to mention exactly where in the storyline I was. Continue reading without worrying is the best solution there.

You can read a 2 chapter preview online.

I got a free pre–release review copy through Netgalley in order to write an honest review.