This blog tour is for two amazing novels by author, Michael McLellan. I will be sharing my review of IN THE SHADOW OF THE HANGING TREE, in addition to excerpts from both books and a giveaway to enter!
MY REVIEW OF IN THE SHADOW OF THE HANGING TREE:
In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree by Michael McLellan is beautifully written, emotional, and at times utterly heart wrenching. Historical fiction isn’t usually my thing, so I was reluctant to read this story. I went in knowing that it might be hard to stomach after exploring a few reviews. On one hand, I figured it was unnecessary to put myself in a place in history that was completely awful in so many ways. On the other hand, I feel at times it IS necessary to do exactly that in order to really appreciate the time we live in now, and to understand the realities of exactly how the nation I live in and love was founded. Reluctantly, I decided to read it and to share my thoughts as a review stop in Michael’s blog tour. So, thank you Michael as well as R&R Book Tours for a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
This book was just as violent and brutal as I expected it to be. It’s a story that lingers, leaving a taste of reality to fester in mind…. Likely for some time to come. Especially the first probably twenty percent of the book or so when the reader learns of Henry’s upbringing and backstory before he became an Indian Scout for the United Military. Being born into slavery, Henry was subjected to violene and humiliation at the hand of the worst. He was sold, whipped, and beaten. I don’t want to give anything away, so I’ll just say that his love, Eliza was taken early on. The way they ran (even as freed slaves), and the things that happened to the two of them isn’t something that I’ll ever want to read again. Nor anything like it. Honestly, I almost couldn’t stomach it, but I’m SO GLAD that I kept on reading.
Although it’s a fictional book, it felt real on so many levels and is based on the exact type of lifestyle that was sadly endured. The book as a whole is very intelligently written, and I have no doubt whatsoever that Michael has done his fair share of research. It goes far beyond that of one’s imagination, touching the lives of individuals on every side of the skin colored fence. Henry is definitely my favorite character. He’s strong, and wise, and despite everything he’s been through his approach at life and his outlook on things is as level headed as can possibly be. He’s amazing.
After the engrossing beginning, the book bounces to other characters and intertwines a love story. Clara, the daughter of a very rich and influential New Yorker, and John, a man from a rival family are caught hiding their love for one another from her father. Clara’s father is horrible. As soon as he hears the news, he completely destroys John’s career in the military and pulls the strings necessary to have him sent West to the most hostile of Indian territories. He is to lead a group of Militia under the command of another horrible individual who’s sole mission is to kill as many Indians as he can merely for the sake of wiping them out. After the first Indian raid, John witnessed the murder of women and children first hand, and refused to take part in furture endevors… his story is complicated, but at one point at the begining of his trek in the West, he crosses the path of Henry. This isn’t the first time they meet, and the way their fates are braided together is brilliant. Obviously this is all due to Clara!
Just as Clara’s father had John striped of his title and sent to the worst place imaginable, he had her sent away to boarding school. She’s a tough little bird, and as she hid the secret of John’s baby growing inside of her, she paid off her escort to take her elsewhere. She’s determined to find John and escape the clutches of her nasty dad.
No sooner than she’s hot on John’s trail, her party is attacked by a bitter and very vengful Indian party and Clara is taken hostage… that is until Henry finds her in the Indian camp and helps her escape the clutches of ongoing rape and misstreatment. She’s able to talk Henry into helping her find John and from there, the story really ties together.
There is so much going on from character to character, and from scene to scene. Michael McLellan is able to develop and tie it all together flawlessly. Although the book brought tears to my eyes multiple times and I doubt I’ll be reading anything even remotely like it again, I’m still rating it with five stars. I found it to be extremely well written, mesmerizing in fact. I feel attached to the characters and find myself wanting to know more of what happened to the few who survived it all at the story’s end. The book is unique and stands out above any others I’ve read in it’s genre. All in all, I found In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree a must read, and will recommend it with the highest amount of humbled emotion.
In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree
Publication Date: April 26th, 2017
Genre: Historical Fiction
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 tyrannical father and travels west in pursuit of John Elliot, the man she loves. John, a U.S. Army lieutenant, was sent to the Dakota Territory where he discovers a government conspiracy to incite an all-out war with the Indians; a war meant to finally eliminate them as an obstacle to the westward expansion.
Henry finds himself caught in the middle.
Aided by Clara, John, and his native ally, Standing Elk, Henry must battle hatred, greed, and the ghosts of his past during this turbulent and troubling time in American history
Emmet Dawson pulled the crumpled sheets of Henry and Eliza’s free papers from his coat and held them close to his face, squinting. “…Samuel Cromwell.” He held the papers out. “Can you read these?”
Henry averted his eyes. “No, sir,” he lied.
“No, of course you can’t. It’s not only near to impossible to teach a nigger to read but it’s also against the law—God’s and man’s.” He lowered the papers to his side. “These jayhawkers are burning and pillaging their way across our great state. They’re murdering innocent Missouri families in their sleep, then setting niggers loose on the land like a pestilence. That boy’s an orphan. His father, his mother, and his little baby sister were inside the house when it was set fire. They were unable to escape. We found their niggers a few miles away, riding their horses and leading their pigs just like they had the right to. We are at war, Henry. We are at war to save our families and our way of life.”
Emmet turned and looked at Bob. “Hang him with the others.”
Eliza let out an anguished wail and dropped to her knees where she began screaming hysterically. Henry tried to kneel down with her but Bob yanked the rope tight and wrapped it on his saddle horn. This left Henry standing at an awkward lean as he tried not to drag Eliza.
“What about the woman?” Bob asked.
Emmet Dawson looked down at Eliza appraisingly. “Shut her up and tie her to my wagon…and here,” he handed Bob the free papers. “Pin these to his shirt. There aren’t any free niggers in Missouri.” He gave Henry a final stony look then walked into the camp.
NEXT UP: American Flowers
Publication Date: July 7th, 2017
Genre: Contemporary Fiction/ Drama
*Triggers: Addiction, Abuse, Sexual Assault
Nineteen-year-old Chris Shafer and seventeen-year-old Allie Laughton came from similar backgrounds of neglect and indifference. Chris spent his childhood desperately trying to gain his alcoholic parents’ love. Allie was dragged through an ugly divorce before narrowly escaping being molested by her mother’s new boyfriend.
A chance meeting draws the two together and Allie is quickly caught up in Chris’ new-found lifestyle. Plagued by poor choices, Chris sets into motion a chain of events that drags them deeper into the murky world of meth. Ultimately pursued by both the police and Chris’ volatile tempered drug dealer, Chris and Allie are forced to confront their only real enemy: themselves.
“You’re poison to that girl. You do see that?”
“We love each other and don’t want to be apart.”
“What do you know about love?” Jan suddenly spat, leaning forward in the easy chair and staring angrily at Chris.
“You listen to me. The only truly unbreakable love is that of a parent for their child. All the other kinds of love, like the kind you and that beautiful young girl in there think you have is fragile and weak, and saddest of all, fleeting. That kind of love can be broken in an instant”—she snapped her arthritis twisted fingers for emphasis, making more of a dry papery sound than a snap. “It can be broken by the smallest of indiscretions, or nothing more than a few poorly chosen words. Mostly it’s just worn away over time like the banks of that creek out there. And it’ll happen so slowly that you never even feel more than a faint tickle at the back of your mind. Oh, it can burn as hot as blue blazes for a moment, but eventually it burns out and leaves something entirely different behind…like the bed of ashes in the bottom of a woodstove after the fire’s gone out. Some folks still insist on calling it love, but it isn’t, not really. It’s obligation, it’s responsibility, it’s apathy. Often it just becomes who you are…what you’re accustomed to. Sometimes it even becomes hate.
Giveaway: $20 Amazon Gift Card!
About the Author
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. A self-proclaimed blue-collar writer, he draws on his experiences and observations to bring relevant and compelling topics to life.
Michael lives in Northern California and when he’s not writing, he can usually be found wandering around the Sierra Nevada and Cascade mountain ranges.
His body of work includes the 2014 novel After and Again, the 2015 novel American Flowers, and the 2017 novel, In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree, as well as various shorts and essays.
Blog Tour Organized By:
R&R Book Tours
Blog Tour Schedule
Reads & Reels (Review of American Flowers)
Audio Killed the Bookmark (Review of In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree)
Jessica Belmont (Review of In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree)
I’m Into Books (Review of American Flowers)
My Bookish Bliss (Review of In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree
Breakeven Books (Spotlight – In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree/ American Flowers)
The Magic of Wor(l)ds (Spotlight – In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree/ American Flowers)
Dash Fan Book Reviews (Review – American Flowers)
The Faerie Review (Review of In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree)
B is for Book Review (Spotlight – In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree/ American Flowers)
Al-Alhambra Book Reviews (Review of In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree)
Loopyloulaura (Review of In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree)
Reviews and Promotions by Nyx (Spotlight – In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree/ American Flowers)
Entertainingly Nerdy (Review of American Flowers)
Didi Oviatt (Review of In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree)
Gwendalyn’s Books (Review of In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree)
Inked and Blonde (Review – In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree/ American Flowers)