From Publishers Weekly
A Civil War odyssey in the tradition of Charles Frazier's Cold Mountain
and Robert Olmstead's Coal Black Horse
, Mosher's latest (after On Kingdom Mountain
), about a Vermont teenager's harrowing journey south to find his missing-in-action brother, is old-fashioned in the best sense of the word. Seventeen-year-old Morgan Kinneson goes in search of his older brother, Pilgrim, a Union soldier reported MIA at Gettysburg. But first, Morgan accidentally causes the death of a runaway slave he was leading to safety in Canada. In the course of tracking down his missing brother, Morgan is pursued by slave catchers, accompanies an elephant on an Erie Canal showboat, visits the battlefield at Gettysburg, meets an escaped slave who turns out to be the dead slave's granddaughter, and gets wounded during a mountain feud before learning of Pilgrim's fate. Complicating matters is a rune stone the dead slave left to Morgan, which could compromise the security of the Underground Railroad if the slave catchers get their hands on it. The story of Morgan's rite-of-passage through an American arcadia despoiled by war and slavery is an engrossing tale with mass appeal. (Mar.)
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In this haunting and hallucinatory novel, a young man named Morgan Kinneson trods through the nightmarish landscape of late Civil War–era America. The impetus for his venture is twofold: to find his brother, Pilgrim, who has been missing since the Battle at Gettysburg and to avenge the lynching of an escaped slave who was in his care as the conductor of one of the final legs of the Underground Railroad. Morgan’s trek turns into a kind of Apocalypse Now journey into the madness of war, but here the heart of darkness is a green-goggled slave breeder and his hired quartet of lunatic murderers, who also happen to be among the novel’s most compelling (though sadly underexamined) characters. These madmen flip-flop cat-and-mouse roles with Morgan as his quest becomes as much about bloodily ridding the earth of their presence as it is about finding his brother. Historical realism this isn’t but it is a violent, often puzzling picaresque with an invigorating take on the Underground Railroad and an unsettling vision of an America despoiled by the War between the States. --Ian Chipman