My rating: 5 of 5 stars
It is 1868. The country is still reeling from the brutal effects of the Civil War, just a few short years earlier. Lorie Blake, a beautiful young woman orphaned by the War, and who escaped the miserable prison of her life as a prostitute in a Missouri whorehouse, now takes wing, embarking on a breathtaking overland journey northwest. With Lorie is her newfound family – brothers Boyd and Malcolm Carter, experienced horseman Sawyer Davis, and his beloved paint mare, Whistler. For the first time in years, there seems reason to hope. Thrown together by the circumstances of fate, and now deeply bound by love, each of them are determined to begin new lives as homesteaders in Minnesota.
But alas, the past refuses to die quietly. Former Confederate soldiers Sawyer and Boyd are haunted by the scavenger-like specters of a War that refuses to stay buried, a conflict never truly put to rest. New friends emerge and old enemies arise, as ancient hatreds boil over in the hearts of the men who survived. In the face of incredible odds, Lorie must rely upon all of the emotional strength in her soul as she battles for the life of her true love, and towards the enduring promise of a new beginning in the north.
Creating a sweeping epic - one couched in the rich history of the early United States - would be a challenge for anyone wanting to lend authenticity to their story telling. The dedication to research, the teasing out of individual experiences within a given time frame, an adherence to the integrity of historical context are all essential ingredients, even within a fictional narrative.
Abbie Williams achieved these things with the first entry into her trilogy of books under the "Dove" heading titled "Heart Of A Dove". She has returned now, to add a deepening layer to the situations and circumstances of her cast of characters, struggling to make their way in the aftermath of the American Civil War. I have argued previously that Williams' dedication to the historical aspects of that conflict was perhaps the most informative I've ever read. I learned things about it that I would otherwise not have known. And they are intimate accounts too, that Williams' curated during her search for material, private stories, gems of discovery that were previously unknown except to a small few.
(image credit - Central Avenue Publishing).
What struck me - both with Heart of a Dove and now Soul of a Crow - is just how immediate Williams' has made the aftermath of war and how it effects each of her characters in their respective story arcs. In Heart of a Dove, they come to the table as broken people, reeling from the shock of war with little time to digest what it has all meant. In Soul of a Crow, they reflect more on their experience and decisions they made to survive. Their subsequent reactions to it are compelling and thought provoking. It is through the strength of their underlying characters as well as an innate 'something' that Williams' has mixed into her brew that draws them together and sustains them - hopefully towards a brighter day.
With the graceful romantic flourishes that are key to Williams' writing style and a visual tableaux that is evocative of classic cinema, Soul of a Crow is a remarkable addition to Abbie Williams' now signature series.
(Abbie Williams - image credit: Abbie Williams).
Abbie Williams has been addicted to love stories ever since first sneaking her mother's copy of The Flame and the Flower; since then, she's been jotting down stories of her own in notebook after spiral-bound notebook.
Abbie spends her days with her own true love, their three daughters, and a very busy schedule. She is most happy when she can sneak in a few hours to write and thereby indulge in visiting the characters in her stories.
When Abbie's not writing, teaching or spending time with family, she is listening to her favorite musical groups of all time: Alison Krauss and Union Station, the Wailin' Jennys, and The Be Good Tanyas. If there's time in the evening, she might watch a few episodes of Hell on Wheels and eat a jar of crunchy peanut butter.
Soul of A Crow is out now.
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