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In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree

4.37  ·  Rating details ·  126 ratings  ·  50 reviews
In 1865 a shadow hovers over the nation: the shadow lingers still...

Born into slavery, Henry’s young life is spent working in tobacco drying sheds on Missouri plantations. Freed at the onset of the Civil War, he's alone, starving, and on the run from Confederate militiamen.

Five years later, Clara Hanfield, the daughter of a powerful New York shipping magnate, escapes her t
Paperback, 268 pages
Published April 26th 2017 by Sweet Candy Press
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May 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
*May contain mild spoilers*

-Author interview below-

The story begins in 1861 with Henry, a slave who’s becoming emancipated during the Civil War, along with Eliza, the only love he’s ever had. Their master has decided to set them free. They head north from the plantation with barely any food and their freed papers in hand.

“Henry, I’m afraid.”

“So am I. Don’t you worry though. Once we get to Illinois, we’ll be jes fine. Can’t be more than a hundred an’ fifty mile if’n we just stay northeast.”

Andy Marr
Feb 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
Well this was a pleasant surprise. And entirely the reason I love Goodreads so much. Let's be honest, I'd probably never have stumbled upon this gem of a novel if it weren't for this site. Pre-Goodreads, I had a habit of choosing books by that particular month's hottest author, books with pretty covers and filled with wildly exaggerated author blurbs promising the BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR!!! or that I'd LAUGH (OR CRY) MY HEAD OFF!!! Generally, I'd get to chapter 2 and realise that, actually, it was ...more
Jeffrey Keeten
”The white man only knows desire, Notaxemahasooma. He knows nothing of contentment. His heart is dry and withered, and he seeks to revive it with that of which has no medicine. He is careless and wasteful, and places himself above and apart from all other things. The white soldiers murder without regard, but themselves are spiritless and go screaming into their own deaths as they were born into life. The white father would take all of our hunting grounds and leave our children with stomachs full ...more
Elyse  Walters
May 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Outstanding and brilliant.....A few SPOILERS included!!!! I felt it’s important to let readers in on the few I share. But none of them will take away the readers own spellbinding experience.

This is a novel written with purpose beyond the storytelling....yet its page turning storytelling-engrossing.
The American Civil War was brutal....1861 to 1865.... between the north and south. It was a nasty war of controversy over enslavement of Black People in our America.
Following the Civil War...( the st
Oct 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Michael McLellan has written a raw and emotional story about a dark but important time in our country‘s history. This book touches on both The atrocities of slavery and the abysmal treatment of Native Americans. It is a hard pill to swallow that there is so much hate running through our country‘s history, but I think it is important for us to acknowledge this and hopefully learn from it. Mr. McLellan is a brilliant storyteller who has woven together this compelling story that is simultaneously b ...more
Graeme Rodaughan
Oct 26, 2017 added it
Recommends it for: Lovers of pitch perfect writing, strong characters, and dramatic historical fiction.
A great book - Just not my cup of tea. DNF'ed at 24%

This book has taught me several things.

[1] Michael A. McLellan is an excellent writer, and this is clearly a beautifully and intelligently written novel.

[2] My wife read this book well before I even knew it existed, and gave it 5 stars. She loves well written historical fiction, but didn't tell me about it (she knows me well)

[3] As much as I admired the writing and the skills on display, this was just not my cup of tea. In fact, it has clarifie
Tara Rock
Jun 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
I won this book in a Goodreads "giveaway" and am very appreciative. Without Goodreads I would not of known of this author or his books. Thank you Mr. McLellan for sending the book to me. This is a very raw and powerful story set in the l860's just after the Civil War. It is fast paced, well plotted and the characters well defined. I thoroughly enjoy the story and highly recommend it. Mr. McLellan is a talented writer and I shall be looking at his other books. ...more
Anthony Jones
Aug 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is my third time reading this book,,, each time I get more out of it. I only have a few books in my personal library I have read more than once. The list is much shorter of books I have read more than twice. This one makes my favorite list.

In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree is a tale of love, sorrow, adventure, tragedy, and redemption that made it difficult for me to pause even for a moment, until the end.

After reading a short story by this author and sampling his craft I had to read his l
Michael McLellan
Jun 10, 2020 added it  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
I'll be releasing a follow-up to In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree, titled The Scout of Wounded Knee this coming spring. ...more
Nov 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: i-own
Great historical book! This action packed story came to life and was very intense at times. Plus, I had no idea how this book would end. With diverse and original characters, I came to care for Henry, Clara, John, and Standing Elk. This novel gave me another favorite book couple (view spoiler). It also gave me annoying characters and lots of men to hate with a true picture of how badly Native Americans and A ...more
Feb 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The Shadow of the Hanging Tree follows the life of an unfortunate freed slave named Henry and his journey in finding himself as a man. Henry’s journey starts by gaining his freedom from his old master as the Civil War comes to an end. He experiences the harsh realities of being an African American in the South during post civil war times. During this time Henry experiences loss, hatred, and the fear of being caught by those who do not care for him because of the color of his skin. After being ch ...more
Jan 28, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a strong character driven historical fiction story set in the 1800’s from the Civil War era. Henry, a freed slave was my favorite character. Having freed slave papers didn’t make you free, Henry struggled in many ways. The mistreatment of Henry and the native Americans was difficult to read about. There are two love stories, Henry and Eliza, and John and Clara. I enjoy books from this time period and found it hard to put down. This was an intriguing, emotional read, the tension ramps up ...more
Sarah Pearce
Jan 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I was given an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

If you are unfamiliar with the part of history that In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree involves, then this may be a spoiler: it’s a tragic story filled with grisly violence and inexplicable hatred. However, I believe most people have read about the treatment of slaves before the Civil War, the atrocities against Native American tribes in the western plains and the strict code of ethics regarding relationships between men
Jan 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Not a pretty tale, but it is fascinating and very evocative. In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree takes us back to a dark and tumultuous time in American History. We follow Henry, a “freed” slave through numerous encounters with different characters at various points during his troubled life.

Through Henry, the author takes us on a grim journey that is both exciting, and heartbreaking. The story is written so well that despite its dark subject matter, you can’t help but get deeply involved in both t
Joseph Carano
May 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway. I love novels written in the old west genre and this one hit the mark. Written about one of the most volatile eras in the history of our country, the time right after the civil war, it portrays a government wanting to expand and put the civil war behind it, by eliminating the Indian as an obstacle. A sad portion of our history as a nation is written about here and Mr. McLellan does a very good job of it. He mentions in the Forward that he fears for the hu ...more
Chitra Iyer
Jan 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
In The Shadow of the Hanging Tree is the third book by Michael A Mclellan. It is due to release on the 27th of January 2017. The book is set on the part of American history when the Civil War had just come to an end. It touches some of the sensitive issues such as racism and slavery apart from the clash between the Americans and the Red Indians.

Henry is a black man whose has been a slave all his life. He and Eliza, his wife, want to leave their terrible lives behind to start afresh. They plan to
Bradley Knox
May 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I've had the pleasure of reading one of Michael McLellan's previous novels entitled American Flowers so knew something about how incredible a writer he is, but was wholly unprepared for the stunning impact of reading his newest novel In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree. This a powerful, dark, arresting, and at times, terrible historical fiction story of the newly emancipated slave Henry. He finds himself freed by his 'owner' after the end of the Civil War in Missouri. It then chronicles his plight ...more
David Lewis
Aug 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this novel and could not put it down. Michael McLellan's skill as an author comes through in his ability to write exposition without interrupting the story and dialogue that flows naturally.

Set in the period following the end of the civil war, McLellan's novel follows the life of a freed slave, Henry, as he makes his way west and becomes immeshed in the border disputes between the US Army and the Indian Nations. Having lived with the Cheyenne and acted as a scout for
Sep 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree is a bittersweet tale that caused me to cry the ugliest of tears yet smile the brightest of smiles. Michael McLellan is a phenomenal writer that can make you feel the deepest of emotions while reading this novel.

Told from multiple points of view, the author gives us the thoughts of every character. As a rule, I find this type of storytelling annoying, but the way it is written, the beauty of the words spoke to me. I truly felt that I knew these characters.

The on
Billy Buttons
Oct 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Title: In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree
Author: Michael McLellan
Star Rating: 5 Stars
Number of Readers: 23
Editing: 9/10
Writing Style: 9/10
Content: 10/10
Cover: 9/10
Of the 23 readers:
22 would read another book by this author.
22 thought the cover was good or excellent.
23 felt it was easy to follow.
23 would recommend this story to another reader to try.
12 felt the author’s strongest skill was ‘plotting a story’.
11 felt the author’s strongest skill was ‘developing the characters’.
19 felt the pa
Yesha- Books Teacup and Reviews

In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree was historical fiction based on civil war, set in 1861-1866, a dark and brutal time period in American history. It was mainly about racism and its impact, civil war, antagonism, unjust law and exploitation, and fight for survival and what is fair and right.

This book was highly disturbing and evocative. It was filled with so much horrors humans are capable to create and sick psychology. I was shocked reading how politicians
Bona Fide Book Reviews
Jun 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This turned out to be a fascinating story. It starts with Henry and Eliza, newly freed from slavery at the end of the Civil War. The beginning of their freedom has a very big downside in that they have no idea how to manage it. They were released like little puppies with no idea how to save themselves. Being slaves, they were used to hardship and injustice, and once they are free they have to rely on gossip and a lot of hope in their desire to acquire land in the northern U.S. They have heard th ...more
Lindsey Roberts
May 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Original Review Here

I have never studied this part of history, but as soon as I saw the In The Shadow of the Hanging Tree invite for a blog tour, I instantly wanted to join.

There are times when a book is nothing short of powerful, and this is how I felt about this novel. I have never been so concerned for a character within just a few pages, and yet I couldn’t tear my eyes away from that opening, fearing for Henry’s life even before I had got to know his character. McLellan’s writing just has th
Sage Adderley-Knox
Jan 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I love history, but when I read about it, I usually grab a nonfiction book. I am not too much of a historical fiction reader. But, when the author sent me a copy of In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree, I didn’t hesitate to read it because I absolutely loved his book, American Flowers. I am so happy I gave this story a chance. It was way more intense and emotional than I expected.

Henry is an incredible human being and character. You can’t help but sit on the edge of your seat as you ride the waves
May 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree is one of the most intense and thrilling novels I have ever read. The writing is graceful and just amazing. The story is full of in-depth detail, created a new level of emotion. At times I felt that I was overwhelmed with all what was going on.

In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree is developed really well. I love all the cultures and races that were brought up in this novel. It's fascinating to me. You don't see those touchy subjects in books nowadays. It's rare. I
Jun 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
“Of course it’s murder, you pampered little pup,”Picton hissed, his face only inches from John’s. “You’re even more naive than I first thought you to be. Did you really believe the seventy of us were going to roam the countryside engaging Indian war parties? Frank Picton’s seventy defeats five thousand bloodthirsty braves! How poetic. You are right about one thing: we’re not fighting a war, we are inciting one. Tell me something; do you have the slightest notion of how many Washington fortunes a
Feb 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree, by Michael A. McLellan, is a western, historical fiction novel primarily set in Missouri, the Kansas Territory and State, and the Dakota Territory. It covers a period of time spanning to both sides of the American Civil War. The novel's central themes are of redemption, unimaginable loss, and the limitless human capacity for both good and evil. The novel contains a number of central and secondary characters, each with a compelling story.

The novel begins with He
Feb 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Different ethnic groups amongst us and we’re supposed to already have devised a plan that can allow everyone to coexist, in unity. Unfortunately, not ever feels the same, or possess the love to care for someone who is indifferent, or do they? In “In The Shadow of the Hanging Tree”, author Michael A. McLellan emerges his readers in the lives of two particular individuals, who are on opposite sides of any spectrum that dare exists. Surprisingly enough, they’re opposite in genders, opposite in fina ...more
David Gunner
Feb 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree
I knew this novel was a must-read as soon as I found out that it was written by Michael McLellan. I have had the pleasure of reading one of his previous books called After and Again which was quite compelling and that I found hard to put down. I was however not even the least prepared for the stunning impact of reading his latest novel In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree. It is one of the most intense and thrilling novels I have laid my hands on and is full of in-d
Alexander Pyles
Feb 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Michael McLellan’s novel, In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree, is a dramatic revealing of 1865 and the aftermath of the civil war. Told from the perspective of a freed slave, Henry and the daughter of a New York magnate, Clara Hanfield, the reader is taken on an intimate and often tension laced adventure in the frontier of the new west. Clara’s love, John, a U.S. lieutenant, stumbles on a conspiracy to incite an all out war with the Indians in the Dakota Territories. It would eliminate the obstacl ...more
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Michael’s love of books began with Beverly Cleary’s The Mouse and the Motorcycle when he was seven-years-old. Later influenced by the works of John Steinbeck, Harper Lee, Stephen King, James Baldwin, and Cormac McCarthy, Michael developed his style of storytelling. He draws on his experiences and observations to bring relevant and compelling topics to life.
To date, Michael has published four novel

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Happy Women's History Month! One of the undisputedly good things about modern scholarship is that women’s history is finally getting its due....
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