The Messenger (Review by Author Holly Weiss)

Genres: Christian Fiction, Christian Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction

The Messenger by Siri Mitchell:  A Review


1778. Philadelphia is under British occupation.

A Quaker woman weeps for her brother suffering in a British jail.

A Colonial spy courts British officers in his tavern.


In The Messenger, a woman and a man from two walks of life team up to aid American military prisoners in a British jail.


Quaker, Hannah Sunderland, feels the numbing cold, hunger and filth her twin, Robert, suffers in the Walnut Street prison. Will Hannah go against the Quaker Meeting’s warning to have nothing to do with “this ungodly conflict” to aid her brother? Tavern owner, Jeremiah Jones, is out for revenge for all the English and Tories had taken from him. Will he be able to rescue men needed for the Patriot cause from the jail?


Siri Mitchell’s fascination with female revolutionary war spies began at age eight. Her novel enlightens us regarding the Revolutionary War period and different viewpoints of war. She puts a magnifying glass to Quaker beliefs and the conditions of wartime jails. Read the Author’s Note for additional insights into the historical background including the real reason Washington’s troops at Valley Forge starved the winter of 1777-78.


The chapters smoothly alternate between the first person accounts of Hannah and Jeremiah Jones. Their relationship pulses with complications. Mitchell is particularly adept at describing what goes on in Jones’s head. This reader longed for more development of Hannah’s twin, Robert, who abandoned his faith to fight for freedom. Nevertheless, the plot is vivid and abiding. Other potent tidbits:


  • Methods of prison escape.
  • English jailors bribing starving Patriot prisoners to take up arms for Britain.
  • Spies practicing passing secret messages and goods without detection.
  • The plight of slaves in the north in 1778.


The publishing industry evidently shies away from books set in Revolutionary times. The inclusion of spy and Quaker elements in The Messenger tipped the industry’s scales, giving us a thought-provoking and entertaining read. The book forces us to determine in what situations spying is acceptable or admirable. Faced with the dilemma, would you choose a cause in which you believe strongly or your faith?


Bethany House graciously supplied the review copy.

Reviewed by Holly Weiss, author of Crestmont


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About Holly Weiss

Holly Weiss is the author of Crestmont, an inspirational historical fiction novel set at a bustling 1920s inn. She reviews for The Book of the Month Club.
  • Kaye

    First of all I would like to say terrific blog! I had a quick question in which I’d like to ask if you do not mind. I was curious to know how you center yourself and clear your head before writing. I’ve had trouble clearing my thoughts in getting my ideas out. I do take pleasure in writing but it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are usually wasted simply just trying to figure out how to begin. Any suggestions or tips? Cheers!
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  • Hi, Kaye,
    I’m not sure your question was directed toward Siri or to me, but I’ll respond anyway since I am an author also. I have a “Before Writing Prayer” that I keep on my computer. I go to that first before I start writing, take a few deep breaths to clear my mind and then just go. If what I write in the first few minutes isn’t good, I keep going to get into the swing. I can always go back and revise it later. Hope this helps.
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