My Dear Hamilton by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie

My Dear HamiltonFor those of you who are fans of the musical Hamilton, I highly recommend this one. My Dear Hamilton is the story of the life of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton, the wife of Alexander Hamilton. The story begins right before they meet (in fact, it begins around the time she meets Lafayette) and goes until the groundbreaking of the Washington Monument, some fifty years after Hamilton’s death.

As aforementioned, I’m a big fan of books that are well-researched, and this one is no exception. The authors really did their homework here, and one of my favorite parts of the book was the authors’ note at the end, going through which things happened, which were blanks filled in, and which were made up entirely (very little, for the record).

I learn about history best through historical fiction, because instead of just presenting facts it takes you inside characters’ minds and feelings and tells you a story about people. Eliza’s story was riveting. I loved seeing the world from her perspective and getting her thoughts and feelings about the events happening around her and the choices she made.

The setting was fantastic here too. This is a pretty big book (over 600 pages), and the length gives the authors space to really inhabit the time and place they’re taking us to. It was one of those books that gave me a bit of a jolt every time I looked up and realized it was summer of 2019, and not whatever season in brand-new America.

If you’re at all interested in Alexander Hamilton or his wife, or if you just like Historical Fiction as a genre, I highly recommend this book. Well-written, well-researched, well done.

Review: The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden

Winter of the WitchThe Winternight trilogy comes to its conclusion. I feel somewhat late to the party just reading this one now, but what can I say: library holds, eh.

This one picks up directly where the second novel left off, with Moscow having suffered a massive fire the night before. As Vasya and her sister Olga begin to pick up the pieces, a mob appears at the door, led by Father Konstantin Nikonovich, demanding Vasya, the witch.

And you don’t take another breath until it’s over. As Vasya works to first find and then free Morozko, the Winter-King, then enlists his help to once again bind Medved, the Bear, she slowly discovers what her true purpose is and her role in the world.

I liked this one a lot. I LOVED the first one, with its magical realism and meticulous detail (The Bear and the Nightingale was one of the books that made me realize that the descriptor “well-researched” is a pretty good indication I’m going to like the book. See also: A Discovery of Witches). The second book I loved a little less, mostly because of Vasya’s tendency to make a mess of things, before gaining the skills she picks up in the third book that enable her to then Fix Things.

The third book was excellent. Vasya finally gets over the culture shock of leaving behind the home in the woods where she’s lived her whole life and gets on with the business of figuring out how to be a bad-A. Time and again, she solves her problems using her wits and sheer nerve, defying everyone who expects her to just lay down and either: a) wait for a man to come save her or b) die.

Mild Trigger Warning– If you’re a person who’s attached to their pets, be warned: The horse dies pretty early on.