Out Front the Following Sea

Fiction - Historical - Event/Era
334 Pages
Reviewed on 10/08/2021
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Vincent Dublado for Readers' Favorite

Out Front the Following Sea by Leah Angstman is an epic tale that we don’t expect but definitely need. This is the story of Ruth Miner, who lives during the high period of voyages and discovery. It is also a time when superstition and blind belief are pervasive and a time when it is challenging to be a woman. Accused as a witch after the murder of her parents, Ruth’s life is about to take a turn as her irrational town demands her execution. Ruth flees and becomes a stowaway aboard a ship. She encounters Owen, a sailor who is aware of her innocence and has long been drawn to her from their years of friendship. But Owen will be facing his own challenge, too, as his French lineage doesn’t stand well with an English commander. They are in a time when King William is waging war between French and English settlers in 1689 New England. This places Ruth in a predicament between saving Owen or herself.

Out Front the Following Sea magnificently captures the color of its time and settings. Leah Angstman is an emerging voice in historical fiction that you should take note of. She is an old soul who writes with the same flair that Hawthorne displayed in The Scarlet Letter and Jack London in The Sea Wolf. She paints a past America without concealing its flaws, creating a lucid narrative that really takes you back in time. I can’t even begin to describe her facility in detailing the nautical exploits of which she shows a good grasp. On top of this, she manages to explore the romantic relationship between Ruth and Owen. This is a fascinating fusion of history, intrigue, adventure, action, and romance—an enlightening tale about the past that will immediately pull you in from the very first page.

Emma Megan

Out Front the Following Sea by Leah Angstman is a debut historical fiction novel that instantly transports the reader into the tumultuous and ruthless world of 17th-century New England. The protagonist of this captivating work is Ruth Miner, an orphaned young woman who tries to survive in a harsh, suffocating, patriarchal environment. Ruth carries the stain of being a witch with her since she took the blame for killing her family in a fire. When the life of her only relative left alive becomes too fragile, Ruth asks for help, but in vain. After she leaves town alone, she meets Owen, her childhood friend, and they sail together into an uncertain future. But, what are their chances of survival when one is an unmarried young woman branded as a witch and the other a sailor with a questionable ancestry?

Out Front the Following Sea by Leah Angstman is a challenging and exquisitely researched novel that contains a mixture of historical facts and fiction. The writing style is intriguing; so are the dialogue and the characters. Leah Angstman's story is gripping and disturbing from the very first page until the last one. It casts a spell on its readers once it goes straight into the horrific depths of a time when women are considered properties and can be severely punished for speaking their minds freely and for tragedies they didn't commit. As the protagonist embraces life in the face of death and perseveres through a time deeply rooted in discrimination and subjugation around gender and race, you cannot stop thinking that women still fight for equal rights and to be humanely treated even today. Out Front the Following Sea is a masterfully crafted story with a great romance on the side.

Tammy Ruggles

Out Front the Following Sea, by Leah Angstman, is a stunning work of historical fiction. Set in wild America during the early days of colonial times, we follow the saga of one woman who struggles to live against all odds, in a time and place hostile and unforgiving toward women. Trigger warnings apply for extreme violence and strong sexual scenes. The era which Angstman writes about is fraught with danger, abuse, war, male-driven power, and sometimes courage. Women today, at least in some societies, take their freedom of movement for granted. The brutally accurate descriptions make this novel even more important. You'll meet Ruth Miner, accused of being a witch. With both of her parents murdered and the blame landing on her, she hides out on a ship but thankfully a close friend of hers is there, Owen. But this is just the beginning of conflicts; even Owen can't escape the risk of death. Who will die, Ruth or Owen, and will she end up putting a noose around his neck or her own? Sometimes it is hard to reconcile the past with the present.

With a plot as rich as this, you should expect execution to match, and Angstman delivers. She is a powerful writer, showing us bold imagery, nail-biting conflicts, and history that comes alive in the paragraphs, including banned languages and interesting dialects. You may forget you're reading a book and begin to feel like you're living with the characters. Sometimes the pace can get slow in some historical novels, but not this one. The pace is perfect, and the action is enough to make you hold your breath. With so much drama going on, I'm glad there is a romance, which makes the stakes even higher. Ruth is amazing, and the glossary at the end is so useful. From the sound of the ending, there is room for more adventures. If you like hard-hitting historical dramas with a female protagonist that is a walking social statement, you will love Out Front the Following Sea by Leah Angstman.