Fans of revolutionary history will find much to love in this adventure, including cameos by figures such as Pierre Beaumarchais, Marie Antoinette, and Pierre Cabanis. Though clearly a work of fiction, the novel captures a real-life event: Benjamin Franklin’s commission from Louis XIV to determine the science behind Mesmer’s theory of “animal magnetism.” Franklin’s reputation as a lover is equally historically accurate, though readers may have a hard time separating the historical image of Franklin as a wise, corpulent, goutish statesman from Gnatz’s characterization of a well-muscled and sexually vigorous grandfather. This dissonance is increased by occasional use of modern terms, such as Marianne and Marie Antoinette discussing how to “contract and relax your pelvic muscles” to encourage a lover.
With a bit of imagination, Gnatz keeps his audience hooked on this fast-paced quest that takes place at the dawn of two revolutions. A helpful bibliography and brief biographical sketches of major characters are sure to please history buffs. The narrative mixes historical drama with romantic fantasy and a heavy dash of occult intrigue that will whet readers’ appetites for the next entry in the series.
Takeaway: Romance and mystery fans will enjoy this exciting reimagining of Benjamin Franklin diving into Parisian love triangles, political machinations, and psychic powers.
Great for fans of Jeff Shaara, Bernard Cornwell.
Design and typography: A-
Marketing copy: A-