Review: The Sheriff’s Catch by James Vella-Bardon

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Genre: Historical Fiction; Action-Adventure

Rating: 4.0/5.0 stars

Main Takeaway: An excitement-filled novel with a lot more to come!

**I received this novel from the author and publisher in exchange for an honest review. I received no compensation for this review, and the opinions expressed were not influenced by this transaction.**

The year is 1585 when Abel de Santiago, a famed marksman for the Spanish army, has his life entirely flipped upside down. Betrayed by his fellow soldiers, who abandoned him for dead and then killed his wife Elsien, his child, and father-in-law, Abel embarks on a journey of revenge. Abel spends the next couple years tracking down his wife’s killers, is captured and sold into slavery, and finds himself on the run with priceless treasure. Abel’s quest for vengeance and survival takes the reader all over 16th-century Europe, and Abel is launched into adventures he never even dreamed of.

I don’t usually read action-adventure novels, but I was drawn to The Sheriff’s Catch for two reasons: one, I love historical fiction; and two, I have a special place in my heart for Ireland. I’ve always loved Ireland and it has always been my favorite place to travel to; but I’ve never known much about their history, and so when I saw that this novel got into the Irish conflict with England I was enthralled to learn more! And wow, did I learn a lot.

From the very first chapter, The Sheriff’s Catch is filled with excitement, and really the pages turned themselves. Vella-Bardon knows how to create a truly vile villain, and I was reminded vaguely of my 17th Century Italian Lit class in college, telling tales of plague and war and comparing Vella-Bardon’s Curro Ramos to Mansoni’s Don Rodrigo (though Ramos is definitely more evil).

What I wish this novel included was more development on Abel and his wife’s love; I understood that Abel loved her and would do anything for her, but I wish I knew more of why their love was so strong. What was it that made their love so strong, so special? Hopefully I will find out in the next installment of the pentalogy, The Rebel North.

Overall, I really enjoyed this novel, and I learned a lot about from it. I flew through this novel, my brain demanding to know what happened to Abel next. I described The Sheriff’s Catch to a friend as the 16th-century Jason Bourne for history fans, and I stand by my extreme comparison! I recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys classic adventure novels like The Princess Bride and The Betrothed, to history buffs, and to all those suckers for a good love story. I cannot wait for The Rebel North!



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