I’m usually not a big reader of historical fiction, mostly because the ones I have read just aren’t interesting at all, or are also romance books. So, when I stumbled across this one while looking at various recommendations for dystopian literature, I thought I would give it a shot. Thankfully, the romance is kept t0 a minimum.
Back in 1918, when WWI was happening, the Spanish flu hit the world. Millions died, quickly. Like no other flu, it hit the young and healthy the worst, leaving many children orphaned. Towns did whatever they could to keep their inhabitants safe, including quarantining everyone.
Although this book is a work of fiction, many towns actually did cut themselves off from the rest of the world, prohibiting everyone from entering, banning townspeople from leaving until the flu had passed. Some towns were successful, some weren’t. But this novel takes the quarantine a step farther. While on guard, two men are faced with a stranger on the road before them. The stranger is coughing, but swears it’s because of a capsized ship rather than the flu. He is hungry and tired and just wants a place to rest. Quite the dilemma for the guards on duty, their only job to protect the town.
I don’t want to get too much into the plot because a lot of things happen, all very much because of cause and effect. One decision leads to another which leads to another. Mullen does an excellent job explaining the rationale for each decision, as well. There is a subplot involving the town next over, which just didn’t appeal to me. I feel like it could have been developed a bit more, but overall the book was really great and poses some really interesting questions.