Book Reviews

Out Front the Following Sea by Leah Angstman

What Da Cover Says: Out Front the Following Sea is a historical epic of one woman’s survival in a time when the wilderness is still wild, heresy is publicly punishable, and being independent is worse than scorned — it is a death sentence. At the onset of King William’s War between French and English settlers in 1689 New England, Ruth Miner is accused of witchcraft for the murder of her parents and must flee the brutality of her town. She stows away on the ship of the only other person who knows her innocence: an audacious sailor — Owen — bound to her by years of attraction, friendship, and shared secrets. But when Owen’s French ancestry finds him at odds with a violent English commander, the turmoil becomes life-or-death for the sailor, the headstrong Ruth, and the cast of Quakers, Pequot Indians, soldiers, highwaymen, and townsfolk dragged into the fray. Now Ruth must choose between sending Owen to the gallows or keeping her own neck from the noose.

Steeped in historical events and culminating in a little-known war on pre-American soil, Out Front the Following Sea is a story of early feminism, misogyny, arbitrary rulings, and the treatment of outcasts, with parallels still mirrored and echoed in today’s society.

What I Says: Wow! What a stunning book this is, I had to have a little break before writing this review because I was totally blown away by this novel. Angstman likes to go beyond what a lot of authors will do, some will create characters that will break your heart….with Angstman it feels like she has reached into your chest to remove your heart and breaks it in front of you. I can’t remember the last time I got so stressed by what was happening to my favourite characters and also by what WASN’T happening to the one character I truly hated.

I am a huge fan of maps in books, I love using the map to follow the route taken in the story, another instance of Angstman going that extra mile is the map of the ship featured in the book, it was brilliant to be able to follow the characters around the ship. The characters were well developed and were easy to fall for too, Ruth, our main character, is a women way ahead of her time, likes to read, believes in science and always has an opinion (obvious witch hehe). Owen balances that line between sailor and pirate, he has a real swagger that makes you smile at times and he almost has the feel of being a bit of a Heathcliff….Then we have Samuel, has there ever been a bigger arse in literature? I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to punch a character so much.

The book is based in 1689 the war between the French and English is mostly in the background but is constantly influencing the characters and their lives. Angstman has captured the brutality of the time perfectly, it doesn’t matter who you are or what your beliefs are, there are a million ways to die and one of them is gonna get you eventually, it’s all down to how much punishment you can handle on the way. I have to admit the most violent scenes were the best, a storm on the ship left me breathless, it went on for so long and was incredible. There is a large battle that Ruth gets caught in the middle of and the chaos even has the reader spinning in circles with action going on on all sides. It all felt very life like.

I’m sure I’ve said this about other books this year but this one is definitely in the running for my book of the year, such an enjoyable read and Angstman is a very talented story teller. The research seems spot on too, I had to google a few things to get more information and it all was correct in the book. 100% this is a book you’ve gotta read…now all I’ve gotta do is wait for it to be made into a film.

Thanks to the author for sending me a review copy of the book. It is released Jan 2022 but you can pre-order it from HERE:

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