Much better than some other famous prequels ...Aboard Providence is the first book in a series of prequels to Keely Brooke Keith's Land Uncharted series. If you've read one or all of the books in that series (three novels and a Christmas novella), then you'll absolutely want to read Aboard Providence - no matter what I have to say about it. Spoiler: I thought it was excellent!
If you haven't read any of the Land Uncharted series, you have a treat in store. I don't want to tell you anything more about the series because that might be a spoiler for this novel (kind of like if you'd never seen The Empire Strikes Back, you wouldn't get the significance of the bratty Anakin Skywalker character in the first movie in the Star Wars saga).
Aboard Providence starts in 1861, and Jonah Ashton's father has just ordered him home to Virginia from medical school in Philadelphia. Dr Joseph Ashton has a long-held dream of emigrating to South America, to escape the trouble he believes is coming to Virginia (and as readers, we know he is right. Trouble is coming, in the form of the Civil War). Dr Ashton has assembled eight families for the trip, and he insists Jonah come with them.
Jonah isn't so sure--there are accusations against him at college, and he's only months away from achieving his lifelong dream of graduating from medical school. He wants to stay and fight the accusations and finish school, not be seen as a runaway. But he's also intrigue by his childhood schoolmate Marian Foster, who has grown into a lovely young lady, one he'd like to know better.
Marian is looking forward to this new adventure (as are all the other immigrants). Her hobby is botany, and she is looking forward to finding new plants to study, and especially to see if any can be used for medicinal purposes.
Reading this novel as someone who has read the Land Uncharted series, I felt some of the information at the beginning was unnecessary. I didn't much care whether Jonah wanted to go on the voyage or not; I just wanted them all to get underway because ... can't give a spoiler ... because I know Anakin Skywalker is going to turn out to be Darth Vader and I wanted to know how it happened (apologies to anyone who hasn't seen Star Wars). But I'm sure that anyone who hasn't read the earlier stories will enjoy this part and not be so impatient!
I was impressed with Dr Ashton and the level of planning he put into his scheme. He was far better prepared than, say, the Mayflower immigrants in their overcroweded ship with too few resources. His fellow immigrants were carefully selected to have the range of skills the new community would need, and - most importantly - to have a shared faith.
Overall, I very much enjoyed Aboard Providence, and now I'm looking forward to the next book in the series.
Thanks to Keely Brooke Keith for providing a free ebook for review. You can find out more about Keely Brooke Keith at her website.