cover image The Pursuit of William Abbey

The Pursuit of William Abbey

Claire North. Orbit, $16.99 trade paper (432p) ISBN 978-0-316-31684-2

North (The Gameshouse) masterfully explores the weight of guilt and the power of truth in this dark historical fantasy. Sister Ellis is working as a nurse in France during WWI when she meets William Abbey, an Englishman who was cursed by the mother of a boy whose life he failed to save when he was a young doctor in Natal, South Africa in 1884. The novel is framed as Abbey sharing his story with Sister Ellis, telling of his employment as a spy for Great Britain, his epic love affair, and the ghastly shadow that dogs his every move. This shadow spirit’s presence gives Abbey the power to see the truth of men’s hearts, but it will kill those he loves if it catches him. Wracked with guilt over his past and enabled by his curse to see the evil motivations of the cruel imperialist he serves, Abbey sets out on a violent quest for revenge against his colonialist masters. North unflinchingly describes the ruthlessness of imperialism, but her choice to use a straight white male character to fight back against the exploitation of colonialism muddies her message. Readers will find this fantastical thriller as entrancing as it is disturbing. Agent: Meg Davis, Ki Agency (Nov.)