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Reviewed by Romuald Dzemo for Readers' Favorite
Emily: Courage Amid Shadows of the Confederacy by Ken DeHaven follows sixteen-year-old Emily Harmon who moves with her family to Missouri from Illinois. It is in the period following the Civil War and the effects of the war are still deeply felt, notably with the “remnant of war,” a group of criminals who sow terror everywhere they go, and they have transformed the small town of Gainesville into a dreadful place. When Emily and her friend discover Wylds, a cultish leader with a mission to overturn the Union victory, Emily leads a team of young people and law enforcement officers to capture Wylds. Many bushwhackers who follow him are captured and jailed. But what becomes of Emily, a young and ambitious woman in a world where women have little space to talk?
This is a beautifully written story with great characters. Emily is someone to root for, a woman with courage and a spirit of daring adventure. Characters like Bloodsucker are interesting as well, and there are many great and dramatic scenes involving him. The author explores the nineteenth century world with ingenuity and writes intelligently about the violence following the war and unscrupulous characters like Wylds, who uses the Bible to mislead others, even making his followers believe they have to pay ten percent of their earnings to him. The general manner in which young women were treated at the time is skillfully captured in the story. Ken DeHaven writes in excellent prose and fills the story with drama; the dialogues are well-written and they provide a deeper layer of entertainment, propelling the plot forward while unveiling character traits. Emily: Courage Amid Shadows of the Confederacy is a well-plotted and rollicking adventure; the writing is atmospheric and the characters memorable. The dangerous post-Civil War world comes alive in this novel.