A young gentleman of means but of meaningless pursuits, Grainger is cast into the notorious Bellstrom Gaol, where he must quickly learn to survive in the filthy, ramshackle prison. The “Bells”—where debtors, gaolers, whores, thieves, and murderers all mix freely and where every privilege comes at a price—will be the young man’s home for the rest of his life unless he can prove his innocence.
But his friends, the journalist William Quillby and Cassie Redruth, the poor young girl who owes Grainger a debt of gratitude, refuse to abandon him. Before they can win his freedom, however, they must decode the meaning behind the crude wax seal that inspires terror in those who know its portent and contend with forces both inside and outside the prison determined to keep Grainger behind bars.
Set against the urban backdrop of late 18th-century England, The Raven’s Seal unravels a tale of corruption, betrayal, murder, and—ultimately—redemption and love.
Praise for The Raven’s Seal:
“Baltakmens captures the flavor and scope of classic British fiction.” —Kirkus Reviews
“This atmospheric, character-driven, and plot-twisty bildungsroman is a worthy paean to Oliver Twist and Great Expectations.” —Booklist
“Baltakmens gives readers of The Raven’s Seal all of the history and the mystery his subtitle promises. The mood, color, details, and dialogue come across as very authentic . . . [his] characters would not be out of place in a work of DeFoe or Thackeray. In fact, there is much of the latter’s Barry Lyndon here, with its plots and duels and confidence games, as well as deft touches of the former’s Moll Flanders, with its bawdy wenches, prison intrigues, and period squalor.” —ForeWord
“The author’s exquisite prose rushes along full of surprises, shadows, betrayal, and squalid situations where the high-born and criminals intermix. A superb mystery with vibrant characters.” —Historical Novels Review
About the author
Andrei Baltakmens was born in New Zealand and holds a Ph.D. in English literature focused on Charles Dickens. His first novel, The Battleship Regal,
was published in New Zealand in 1996. He continues to publish short
fiction and is currently a graduate student in the Creative Writing
Program at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, where he
lives with his wife and son. The Raven’s Seal is his first book to be published in the U.S.