Monday, August 22, 2011

Historical Fiction: Shadow of a Quarter Moon by Eileen Clymer Schwab

Publisher: New American Library
Date: July 5, 2011
Format: paperback
Acquired: from author
Read: for review (disclaimer: I received my copy of this book in return for an honest review)
Pages: 380
Reading time: one day

From GoodReads: 1839, North Carolina. As the daughter of a plantation owner, Jacy has been raised in privilege- until she discovers that she's the offspring of a dalliance between her father and a slave. The revelation destroys Jacy's sense of who she is and where she belongs in the world. Equally shocking, her biological mother and brother are still slaves on the property. As she gets to know them-and the handsome horse trainer, Rafe-she begins to see life in the South with fresh eyes. And soon Jacy will have to make a treacherous journey that she hopes will end in freedom for them all...

My review: For the first little bit, I had low expectations of how this book would turn out. The characters were predictable - even without reading the back cover, I could tell who Jacy's mother, brother, and love interest would all turn out to be, long before she figured them out. The dialogue often seemed stilted, overly verbose and well-formed for conversations. Anyway, it got better.

The story derails from most expectations at about page 150, leaving over 200 pages left for great historical information and an often exciting plot. It's rare that historical novels manage to combine seamlessly incorporated historical details with some great action, but this one made it work. First of all, Jacy ends up in a maroon colony in the Great Dismal Swamp. How often do you find novels about maroon colonies, much less ones in the Great Dismal? Um, I know of one other book, and the colony part comes at the very end, in Florida. Not only does Schwab cover Carolina maroon colonies in Shadow of a Quarter Moon, she also goes into the Underground Railroad network (and makes it be viewed as how it would have been seen in 1839, not as *the* all-famous, well-formed Railroad of modern perceptions) and the continued problems of bigotry and hatred that former slaves faced once they reached the North. Not to mention that Jacy herself is an interesting part of history, occupying the odd place of being raised white despite being born to an enslaved mother. Towards the end, it seemed like the author was trying to cram a bit too much into the book, which also made the conclusion come off as a bit rushed - events and emotions kept flip-flopping back and forth - but it's excusable because of the wealth of historical bases that are covered within less than four hundred pages.

Maturity Factor: A couple non-explicit sexual situations.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for stopping by my blog!

    I've been wanting to read this one. I think I need to check my library for it.