After reading the Song of Acadia series by T. Davis Bunn and Janette Oke, I was enthused to begin the sequel series by Bunn and his wife, Isabella. Despite a bit of a letdown in quality of writing and story construction, I did enjoy The Innocent Libertine enough to keep reading. Then I persevered through the second book,the third and now the fourth book, The Night Angel. I can honestly say that every other book in the series has been disappointing, while the alternate pulls it together enough to make me want to keep reading the series.
For those that are wondering, there is very little connection between characters in both series - only a brief reference here and there to distant relatives or characters connected to the original books, seemingly only to qualify the Heirs of Acadia as a sequel to the earlier Oke/Bunn series.
The Night Angel, however interesting the plot attempted to be, was the most disappointing of all. This was especially disappointing to me because the description of the story seemed inviting. The anti-slavery movement of the 19th century was much more worthy of a good story than this book attempts to give. The characters in this novel are somewhat weak, yet the biggest offense of all in this particular book is the awkwardly constructed storyline that is ridiculously unbelievable in a number of scenes. Despite the touching scenes with Falconer sharing the gospel from a jail cell, and the love and care of his friends who rise to the occasion to help him in his hour of need, the story utterly falls short at the end. This is largely due to the character of Vladamir, who was almost comical in his melodramatic portrayal as the villain in the story. When the story comes to its climax his response to the situation was completely out of character considering the authors' building efforts to describe his utterly evil nature. Frankly, I was appalled at the way this scene played out. The near showdown aspect of it came across as a B-rated Italian western movie with a handful of Anabaptists thrown in.
I was also frustrated to no end by the attempt at describing Serafina as an artist. Why didn't the authors mention this aspect of her character in the preceding books? Her passion and drive as an artist described in this book wouldn't have just suddenly appeared. Also, the authors clearly do not understand the use of art materials, which weakened Serafina's character substantially and nearly ruined the book for me. For instance, painting with watercolors on canvas in this period of history? How ridiculous!! Also, the use of easels for watercolor painting is totally wrong due to drips it would cause. There were many inaccuracies in the uses of art mediums such as these in this book that led me to complete distraction.
One of the most compelling things about historical fiction is the idea that the story COULD have taken place this way. It takes well researched historical facts combined with strong, excellent narrative story telling to make an historical fiction novel worth the read. The Night Angel and preceding books in the Heirs of Acadia series minimally qualify in this. Though entertaining enough to pass the time reading and learning a bit about history and groups of people, the Bunn/Bunn partnership as authors is no match to Oke/Bunn in the least. The first Acadia series beats this one, hands down.