7 February 2014

Review: A Matter of Conscience by Mary Hosmar

Is rebellion treason?

It’s 1837 and Jamie MacPherson is fifteen, living with his family on their Canadian farm. William Lyon Mackenzie is calling for Canadians to reject the frustrating and undemocratic British rule, a call that places his family in opposition to many of their friends and neighbours. Is armed rebellion against the God-ordained government appropriate? What if the government gained power through unfair means?

A Matter of Conscience did an excellent job of fairly presenting both sides of the issue, and this was refreshing (in contrast, most Christian fiction about the American Revolution is written by Americans, and reflects the American view).

There were a handful of typos (e.g. outrages instead of outrageous), and while they were a little distracting, they were easy enough to overlook. There were also a couple of small factual errors (Canadians, like other citizens of the Commonwealth, were British subjects until 1949). My other issue was that I didn’t initially know where the book was set. Yes, I knew it was in Canada, but Canada is a big country. There were references to Upper Canada and Lower Canada, but I’m not Canadian so had no idea what that meant (I’ve since checked Wikipedia, and it seems they are the modern-day provinces of Ontario and Quebec. Perhaps that should have been explained in an introductory note from the author).

The novel raised some interesting questions, questions which have no easy answers, and the author did an excellent job of attempting to convey the internal conflict this causes Jamie. However, I felt the story dragged in places, with too much introspection about the arguments for and against rebellion, and too little action. When the action finally came, it felt almost flat, as though the book had been leading up to a conflict which never happened.

A Matter of Conscience is a solid young adult novel with interesting characters, a unique plot and setting, and it asks some difficult questions. Itwill be of interest to Canadians, those interested in Canadian history, and anyone who’s ever wondered when rebellion or war is appropriate.

Thanks to the author for providing a free ebook for review.