I really wanted to like this book, Not Without Mercy The Black Death, by Philip Wright. I really, really did. I mean, it’s about the Black Death! How could I not like it? But I didn’t. I am sad now.
I was turned off right at the start by the fairly strange intro. Why was the author’s dream necessary for the reader to know? Save it for the author’s note, if you must. I appreciate his desire to explain the motivation for writing the book. But it wasn’t really necessary.
First chapter in was riddled with historical inaccuracies. Most were minor, such as mentioning the new fabric called denim, which wasn’t actually invented until the 1500s. But they were numerous. It is hard for me to stomach a historical fiction that has so many inaccuracies.
The thing that made me just give up was when the shipwright decided that the plague was caused by fleas and that people should quarantine themselves to prevent the further spread of the illness. And his doubt that it was a curse from God. Come on. It simply wasn’t believable for the time period. At that point I gave up and quit. I think I might have made it 10% through.
It was also in serious need of an editor. There weren’t many commas, which it really needed. When there were commas, they were usually in a comma splice. Sigh. I found the dialogue to be stilted and unnatural, though maybe that is just a personal preference. Others might not mind it so much.
I can see why it got so many good reviews on Amazon. It seems like it might be very interesting and dramatic. If that’s all you’re going for, awesome. It would likely deliver.
I can only give it 1 star, which makes me sad. I really wanted to like this book.