This book was pleasantly surprising. Pleasantly probably isn't the best word for it since nothing about this book is pleasant, but I did find it a lotThis book was pleasantly surprising. Pleasantly probably isn't the best word for it since nothing about this book is pleasant, but I did find it a lot more enjoyable than anticipated.
Let's set the stage a bit - this story is set in contemporary times with major deviations in history where Abraham Lincoln, the Civil War, and the enslavement of African American are concerned. In this deviant history, Abraham Lincoln is assassinated prior to his inauguration as president. There is no Civil War, there is no emancipation proclamation. Instead, The Crittenden Compromise is enacted as the eighteenth amendment to the constitution. For those of you that don't know everything about American history (don't worry, I don't either. I took a crash course in Wikipedia), The Crittenden Compromise was a real thing proposed by a Kentucky Senator in 1860 that, if enacted, would have become amendments 13-18 of the constitution. Not only would these amendments have legalized slavery in the South, it would have done so in perpetuity by adding an amendment that specifically prohibits any congress ever from changing these amendments or otherwise interfering "with slavery within any slave state." Back to the present day alternate history - many Southern states have seen the error of their ways and freed their slaves, but four states called "the Hard Four" have quite literally industrialized slavery. Boy am I thankful for good ol' Abe after reading about what could have been!
Victor is a freed black man who works as a bounty hunter for the US Marshall service. The US Marshalls are constitutionally obliged (thanks to Crittenden) to hunt down and return fugitive slaves who find their way North, and Victor has tracked down hundreds of runaways in his tenure with the service. He's now on the case of a runaway named Jackdaw, but the file he's been given on this boy doesn't quite add up and something is definitely not quite right.
One of the things I loved about this book was that none of the characters are morally black and white, they all have their own shades of grey. Victor tells himself that he is a good man doing bad work, but he is too selfish to give up his own freedom to do the right thing. Along the way, he meets a young white woman who is on a mission of her own to get information about her son's African American father. No one in this book was quite what they seemed.
To be honest, the most intriguing part of this book was the end and HOLY HELL do I wish there were going to be a sequel. Victor uncovers a big secret about something the south is doing to further industrialize their plantations and ohmigosh my jaw was hanging open. It totally blew me away and has such sequel potential. ...more
This is a cute short starring Constable Newberry, who appears in The Iron Duke as Mina Wentworth's bodyguard. Fun backstory, but nothing super imperatThis is a cute short starring Constable Newberry, who appears in The Iron Duke as Mina Wentworth's bodyguard. Fun backstory, but nothing super imperative to the overall story. ...more