Genre: Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction
Publisher: Calling Cow Press
- ISBN-13: 978-0999769911
- ASIN: B07SS5J113
Print Length: 340 pages
Publication Date: December 26, 2018
Source: Publicist and NetGalley
Title Link: Across the River
In the summer of 1863, Judson Walker, a captain of Morgan’s Raiders, and Jonathan Reid, a young engineer, come to Furnass to appropriate two of Colin Lyles’ steam-powered road engines. The purpose is to outfit the engines with iron plate and the newly developed Gatlin Guns, and, with Morgan, deliver the war engines to General Lee’s army in Central Pennsylvania. Amid Walker’s growing involvement with Lyle’s wife Libby, deserting soldiers, and Reid’s own agenda, Walker learns Morgan isn’t coming. The novel reaches its climax with Lyle trying to sabotage the war engines. Walker must decide between Libby and duty toward his men, the war and individual human values.
This one is different.
Two men from the Confederate calvary in a group known as Morgan’s Raiders have entered a small village in Pennsylvania on a secret mission. Captain Judson Walker is accompanied by pseudo-engineer Jonathan Reid on a secret mission in which a local has been perfecting what he calls a “road engine.” They are befriended by the owner of Steamworks and invited to stay with him as Reid studies his machine to test the feasibility of combining it with a new invention that will replace hundreds of men at the front line and hopefully swing the war to the Confederate side.
From the beginning, you get this isn’t a normal military operation, nor the home of Colin Lyle a normal marriage. In a skirmish prior to arrival, Walker is wounded and taken under the wing of Lyle’s wife, Libby. She is a woman born about four generations before her time, a transplanted southerner who immediately gleans that despite the Union uniforms, these two may not be northerners. She’s an enigma, outspoken, intelligent, and insists Walker be checked out by their village doctor with whom it would appear she may have a relationship other than doctor/patient. The little village has not seen the conflict first hand, but residents are kept fairly up to date of the progress and properly suspicious of anyone new to the area.
The storyline is well-plotted, but grows and flows rather languidly, shifting first and third persons (putting you in the head of one and his thoughts, particularly Walker as he relives scenes of his skirmishes with Morgan), as well as the other main characters. Walker is smart, deeply distrustful of Reid, and exhibits battle fatigue. Reid, although he’d like to think is the smarter of the two, has no military mind and the two often clash. Reid is interested in the glory he’s sure he’ll receive from producing a successful war machine. Lyle is just grateful that someone at long last has seen fit to investigate his contraption.
There is much philosophical consideration and reflection, Reid’s arrogance makes him an unsympathetic character, Libby gets weird and also unsympathetic, and Walker flashes back to his “one that got away” comparing her with Libby. References to the couple’s children–but where were they? The rest of Walker’s troop arrives, several in need of medical attention. The dialogue reads realistic for the time and the description of the big house dark and uninviting. Difficult to determine how this will all work out, the author does a fine job of wrapping up a satisfying conclusion, but leaves out a few minor details.
I was contacted by the publicist for the author and offered a free copy through NetGalley and appreciated the opportunity to read and review. There were some format problems. Very different view of the civil war and the individual personalities involved make it a compelling, unique read.
Rosepoint Publishing: Three-point Five of Five Stars
The Author: No author info, page, or links
©2019 V Williams