Traitor to the Crown: A Spell for the Revolution
by C.C. Finlay
Cover Artist: Design: Jae Song; Inset Illustration: Craig Howell
Review by Mel Jacob
Del Rey Mass Market Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780345503916
Date: 19 May 2009 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
C.C. Finlay's trilogy Traitor to the Crown continues with A Spell for the Revolution. It opens with Proctor Brown, a patriot and witch, on a mission to Virginia to collect a young witch, Alexandra Walker. After an attack detailed in Traitor to the Crown: The Patriot Witch, the school for witches at The Farm disbanded and sent the members to their homes. Now, it appears someone is 'collecting' young witches. He encounters a stranger he first mistakes for a scarecrow by the name of Bootzamon. Proctor continues on his way, but senses something very wrong when he reaches the Walker home. Inside, he discovers the mutilated corpses of a man and a woman, but no sign of Alexandra.
Bootzamon reappears and tries to kill Proctor. The enchanted creature and his demon familiar almost defeat Proctor, but he resists them and finally succeeds. To protect the bodies of the Walkers, he hides their house behind a spell and departs as fast as his horse Singer can go. The scarecrow man had said his master wanted the young witches alive and the older ones destroyed. Fearing Deborah Walcott, the Quaker witch, and others witches at the The Farm are targets, he turns for Salem and hopes he can reach them before the Covenant does. The Covenant, a group of European witches and their creatures, aid the British and want to destroy the nascent Revolution.
After Proctor reaches The Farm, Paul Revere arrives and tells them of a young orphan with powers on Long Island and urges them to locate the child. Fearing the worst, Proctor and Deborah set out and leave an elderly Pennsylvania Dutch witch-midwife in charge of the Farm and the witches there. Deborah constructs images of the group for her and Proctor to take with them to make it appear all the witches accompany them. Because Revere mentioned seeing a scarecrow man, they want to ensure he follows them. They must avoid the enchanted man and find a way through an enemy ship blockade as well as picket lines to reach their goal. The scarecrow and other Covenant agents dog their steps.
Deborah has the ability to conjure the weather and uses that skill to aid their voyage to Long Island. On land, they encounter fighting and the patriots in retreat. Desperate to help, Deborah again calls upon the weather. Too weak to act alone, she seeks Proctor's aid and draws on his power. She succeeds, but leaves them both weak. Proctor fears she may die.
They locate the orphan boy, but he is held by Cecily Pinckney, the evil witch, responsible for the death of Deborah's father and mother. She has allied herself with the Covenant and serves a German witch. When Proctor and Deborah seek food and shelter from a farmer in return for chores, Proctor hopes Deborah can recover her strength. However, Cecily and the German appear and claim them as escaped indentured servants. They manage to flee and return to the mainland.
Darker in tone and events than Traitor to the Crown: The Patriot Witch, the novel follows the Continental Army as it struggles against the British. The Army loses battle after battle. The Covenant lays a curse on the men fighting against the British that ensures ghosts of the recent dead hang on every man and sap their will to fight. General Washington has thirteen ghosts. The men keep fighting, but some desert. Deborah and Proctor wonder how any of them can still fight.
Finlay uses real people and events in his narrative: Washington and his staff, Alexander Hamilton, James Monroe, Thomas Paine, Nathan Hale, Betsy Ross, and others. Despite continued defeats, the Army struggles on and Proctor and Deborah fight to lift the curse. The novel ends with some successes and one notable failure. The story continues in The Demon Redcoat.