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Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite
Galley-Man by Dasck E DeFin is a historical novel based on the real life of a man named Ezekiel. DeFin begins the novel with historical accounts of events in France, starting with the St. Bartholomew Day Massacre. The novel is a blend of history and narrative. The history of the religious persecution of the Protestants during the 1500s-1700s is set up with accounts before introducing Ezekiel. The protagonist has an interesting youth in which he befriends Francois, whom he helps create a shelter in the forest. Ezekiel is later arrested and imprisoned, having to serve duty as a galley-man, the men who row in a galley. The only thing that keeps Ezekiel going is his love for Isabeau, even when she gets arrested and sent to la Tour de Constance. Their love is kept strong through the letters they exchange.
Galley-Man is written in a style reminiscent of the works of Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and William Faulkner. It breaks the boundaries of historical context and prose. The style fits the time in which it is set. It doesn’t read like a modern novel. DeFin uses a liquid form to tell the story like a song. It has an underlying love story told from two perspectives, held together through thoughts and letters. Ezekiel is honest where Isabeau is more of a dreamer. They both deal with prison through different eyes. It’s poetic, real, and gives an emotional account of life in the galley, and life as a Protestant sent to prison for religious beliefs. It’s a great novel for adults who love literary works that break the barriers of structure.