Traitor to the Crown: The Patriot Witch
by C.C. Finlay
Cover Artist: Insert Illustration: Craig Howell
Review by Mel Jacob
Del Rey Mass Market Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780345503909
Date: 28 April 2009 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
C.C. Finlay's new series, Traitor to the Crown, begins with The Patriot Witch. Set during the American Revolution, it follows the adventures of minuteman and nascent witch, Proctor Brown. The New Englander's roots go back to England and Salem including witches. His mother fears discovery and persecution as a witch and tells Proctor little of his heritage. He courts Emily Rucke, the daughter of a rich sugar merchant, but soon encounters difficulties when he meets a British officer wearing a protective medallion. The man cannot be killed or injured, and that leads Proctor to believe it is magical. The officer threatens Proctor and gives him a message for the militia.
When the alarm sounds of the British approaching Lexington, Proctor and his mother read the future. He sees the Redcoats returning to Boston. She sees death and injury. Relieved by his vision, Proctor joins the minutemen to stop the British.
The British officer with his medallion leads his men in the attack. When the captain of the militia talks with him, the officer refuses to turn away. Instead, he prepares to shoot the man in the back. Even knowing nothing can hurt the officer, Proctor shoots, distracting him. The British troops shoot back and kill several militia men. The militia regroups and heads to Concord. There, Proctor again sees the British officer and in desperation tries to reach him. He does, but when he grabs for the medallion, it saps his energy and the man escapes. True to Proctor's vision, the Redcoats march back to Boston.
Weak and wounded, Proctor seeks help from Emily despite finding her home dark and apparently deserted. At last someone opens the door and he falls inside. Emily and her servant Bess tend his wounds and, when they depart for Boston and safety, leave him unconscious with food and water.
When Proctor recovers and seeks advice from Reverend Emerson about Emily, he encounters a strange widow. Her powers amaze him and lead him to believe she is a witch. Determined to learn more, he comes back later and relives the guard placed on her. She tricks him and escapes leaving him drained of energy. When Emerson and the Quaker witch Deborah find Proctor, they are furious. However, she heals him and then leaves in pursuit of the widow, a British spy and evil witch. When Paul Revere arrives he convinces Emerson and Proctor to send the latter to The Farm, an enclave for training nascent witches.
More troubles ensue when agents of the British in the guise of Indians attack The Farm and kill Deborah's father. Witches working for the British pose a significant threat to the Revolution. They killed both her father and her mother and destroyed The Farm. Proctor and Deborah are determined to thwart them.
Finlay, author of many published speculative fiction short stories and another fantasy novel, The Prodigal Troll, received a starred review from Publisher's Weekly. The reviewer lauded him for using the Revolution as his setting. With strong background in history further aided by his work as researcher, he uses historical events and real people to add believability to his novel.