Top critical review
9 people found this helpful
Not quite up to the stellar reviews
on February 3, 2014
This is a "readable" novel - I finished it. I don't finish books that don't hold my interest in (pick one): compelling writing, compelling plot, outstanding use of language, or interesting characters. This one meets the mark in interesting characters and a sense of learning more about what slavery, and day-to-day relations between race were like pre-civil war, but that's about it. There are a range of characters from the young black woman who had supposed magic powers, a plethora of "bad people" led by a ruthless slave trader woman, an honest and courageous widowed farmer who treats her slaves with honor and integrity, and a lesser group of low-character types on the trail of any negro target they could catch, abduct, or otherwise capture and turn for profit. This leads to a range of concurrent storylines which detract from the plot - not add to it.There are a few likable characters - the widow farmer, her male slave, the "Woolman" (a black man who has left society to live mysteriously in the swamplands of Maryland's eastern shore), but the remainder are in a contest over who can be more vile, greedy, or contemptuous. Read it if you are hostorically minded and interested in learning about slavery with some elements (few) of the underground railroad, but if you're looking for a good story and a good page-turner read, pass it by.