Review: Redemption On The River by Loren DeShon
Title: Redemption on the River
Author: Loren DeShon
Publisher: Self Published book in July 2012
Genre: Historical Fiction
Labels: 19th Century, American History, Mississippi River, Underground Railroad, Historical Fiction, Riverboat, Gambling, Poker
Rating: 4 Stars
Silas Jacobson is a young man living with his father and younger sister and brother on a farm in western Missouri. The time period is 1848. The mother and a younger sister Sally died previously to the beginning of Redemption On The River. Silas and his brother work alongside their father toiling the farm, laboring to earn a living. Their father is a stoic and quiet man, his life has lost its joy and meaning after his wife died. A turning point came when the father suggests to his sons they go duck hunting. During this hunt the father is accidentally killed. What should have been a turning point in the relationship with his sons, becomes a turning point in the life of his family, as well as the ending for his own life. Silas struggles with the events of his father's death, he cannot bear the grief. Silas leaves the farm and life he's known, and begins a journey leading him to a riverboat on the Mississippi River, and to girl named Hannah.
- I love strong characters. They don't have to be likable, they can annoy me; but they must NOT be milky-toast. Silas is a young man, and typical of young men he is full of himself (bravado). He is charming, charismatic, handsome, mouthy, temperamental especially when his ego is bruised, unafraid of hard labor, engages in risky behavior, naive because of youth, energetic, and cares about his physical appearance.
- There is a great attention to details in the story that gave me a perfect sensory view of the story. Whether it was the muddy waters of the river itself, or the farmland of Missouri, or a gambling house; both the background and the foreground (its characters) were all in vivid detail. For example on page 26, "The frayed black frock coat was draped over his heavily worn overalls, the legs of which were stuffed into an ancient pair of black stovepipe boots with leather so old it crackled when he moved. He had tied a dingy white handkerchief around his neck, perhaps to emulate a clergyman's collar, but the effect was spoiled because he had also used it on his bloody head and the result looked as if someone had bandaged an attempted throat-cutting. As for the wound itself, he had stopped the bleeding by applying a copious plaster of mud, and the sparse remnants of his hair stuck out at odd angles through the drying, flaking poultice."
- There is a turning point in the story that to me was as significant as the death of Cyrus's father in the first few pages. This turning point is on pages 91-93, it is about 1/4 way into the story. This dramatic scene is like an emotional release of the main characters past, and it leads to the next stage in his life.
- Historical notes are given in the back of the book. These definitions pertain to towns, gambling, historical people, figures of speech, and government acts for the nation during this time period.
- Affects of slavery are seen through Silas's eyes. I was given a view of a slaves work on the river, riverboats, docks, towns along the Mississippi river, African culture, slave trading, Underground Railroad system, and a slave auction. The book also through its characters show the varying feelings of prejudice against the slave.
- This is a self-published book from a new author. I have a pretty good eye for detail---finding no major errors. My only negative points are listed below.
- There were a few words used in the story that to me took away from the authenticity of it. For example: precocious, acquiesce, feint, verminous, cacophony, and copious. A couple of these words I had to reach for my dictionary to find the meaning. I do not believe the characters in this book---time period would have used these words.
- There is a scene where a slave girl felt free enough and assertive enough to hug a white man and kiss his hand shortly after meeting him. I do not believe that during this time period a slave woman would feel "free enough" to be this demonstrative, even if he did rescue her, I just don't believe it.
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