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HFC Editorial Review of "The Crabchurch Conspiracy" by Mark Vine


Historical Non-Fiction and Audiobook

In 1645, the small twin seaside towns of Weymouth and Melcombe, along the Dorset coast, became the stage for one of the bloodiest battles between the Royalists and the Parliamentarians of the time. Conspirators supporting Charles the First were eager to deliver the ports back into his hands, and history whispers that perhaps the King plotted to use the ports to flood a huge French army into England, and thus deliver a decisive blow to the resistant Parliamentarians who fought him for three years hence.

The Royalists’ plans almost succeeded, until their intended victim, Colonel William Sydenham, commander of the Parliamentary garrison and MP for Melcombe, managed to saturate the town with his soldiers. Even as he suffered a tragic blow of losing his brother, Francis, in the initial assault, the battle continued for two solid weeks.

When the third week of fighting arrived, Lord Goring, General of a 6,500 strong army came against Sydenham’s stubborn force of just 1,300 men. They were outnumbered six to one. No doubt, Melcombe’s days were numbered.

Yet, the General underestimated Sydenham, for the Colonel succeeded in retaking Weymouth, but he managed to withstand the full might of Goring’s military response, delivering a victory which could be deemed as nothing short of miraculous, and ending King Charles’ hopes of success in Dorset.

This historical non-fiction rendition of the events of the era is a first-class account with exceptional writing and vivid verbiage that sometimes reads like a novel. Mr Vine is to be commended for not only his style of writing, but for the passion he feels for the area where he lives flowing through the words and allowing the reader to truly feel the heartbeat of his prose – which is a rare feat for a non-fiction book. This book is worthy of being included among history classes around the World to give a glimpse into the small battles which raged around England during the crisis which still resonates to our modern day. The events which took place surrounding Charles the First, his later execution, and the ascension of Oliver Cromwell as Lord Protector, shaded future events in the United Kingdom’s history. Mark Vine relays this in exceptional detail. Also, the addition translations of Preacher Ince’s diary of the event, the biography of some of the key players, and the eyewitness accounts added concrete evidence behind the story told, and I enjoyed this very much.

Along with Mr Vine’s words, we are gifted with the incredible voice of narrator, Jonathan Dixon, whose reading allows us to live the words in every sense of the word. This audiobook adds sensational music and special effects, transporting the reader back in time, hearing the battles, as well as listening to what is happening. The fluid way this is done comes together in a most pleasing way – Mr Vine’s words, Mr Dixon’s reading, the carefully chosen music by The Dolmens, and the perfect sound effects styled by the producer, boosts this non-fiction book and audiobook onto a gold-star level. You are not just simply reading or listening to a history book, you are living the moment, and for that, I give the book five-stars and will highly recommend this book to anyone interested in English history.

Five Stars and a Highly Recommended Award from The Historical Fiction Company


D K Marley

The Hist Fic Chickie



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