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Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite
Life and Times of Jeb Ratliff: Dakota Storm is a work of western style fiction penned by author Jimmy Crisp. Our titular hero Jeb is a man raised amongst the fire and trials of the bloodiest war in US history, the American Civil War. The Christian values he’s been given are put to the test during these trials as he fights for the South, despite knowing the abomination that is slavery. After the horrors, Jeb reaches Dakota Territory with the hopes of a fresh start in peace. Here, he discovers new cultures, but also new demons to battle, and old ones which may haunt him forever.
Author Jimmy Crisp has created a culturally intelligent western that’s highly readable in the modern age, dealing with the full gamut of human emotion as well as the tricky waters of war and race relations. Jeb Ratliff is a well-developed character whom readers can get to know right from his earliest childhood influences, into the formative parts of his life where he discovers love, his own sense of personal justice, politics, and learns a lot about himself in the process. Though there are plenty of excellent atmospheric moments of western-style cowboy action, the piece is serious and slower-paced at heart, making for immersive reading that draws its audience into the real history at play. Overall, Life and Times of Jeb Ratliff: Dakota Storm was an excellent read, part historical fiction, part western, which has a lot of poignancy for today among its engrossing, nostalgic plotlines.