Top critical review
Inches from Being a Truly Great Book
Reviewed in the United States on January 2, 2017
I enjoyed this fictional take on John Brown and his raiders, but walked away feeling the story needed one more content edit to make it soar. For example, I did find the story humorous at times, but thought how much funnier it would have been if we were reminded throughout the book of the old man who was telling the tale. The repetition of phrases that bothered other readers would have made more sense if presented in the context of the well-worn voice of an elderly speaker. I was also bothered by the description of the feathers--an ivory-billed woodpecker has black and white feathers large enough not to lose in a pocket out on the Great Plains, but the red feathers are tiny body feathers located on the nape of the neck. I have a degree in wildlife ecology, so this bothered me way out of proportion to its importance in the story, but did make me wonder why that detail was missed. Just one example, but one final fact-check to pick up little things like that and one final story edit to enrich the telling of the tale would have really made this novel shine.