Welcome to February and the start of Black History Month. Since February is also the month for love, let’s combine the love of reading with the appreciation for the roles of African Americans in shaping our nation’s history.
For Black History Month, we want to acknowledge our authors whose books allow us to meet unique and inspiring characters, witness struggles and triumphs, and give us hope.
In The Half Beneath (B. Robert Wilson), a young man is born into an existential fog. Nothing for him is ever black or white; nothing for him is ever determined. His name is Lyle, a slave in western Virginia, and his story speaks of the indeterminacy of family and identity in a world where slavery and violence wrench and pull at bonds of blood and affection. From the Blue Ridge Mountains to the Confederate infantry, to the Union ranks on the shores of the Ohio River, Lyle navigates his way through shifting loyalties and precarious relationships, discovering who he is, as a slave, as a son, as black, as white, as shackled, as free. Lyle is a divided spirit in a divided nation, steadily uncovering, steadily determining, steadily creating that half beneath.
The Lies That Bind (Ed Protzel, DarkHorse Trilogy, Book 1) is a darkly ironic, multiple mystery/drama that illustrates how even the past cannot suffocate the insatiable human heart. In 1859, Durksen Hurst, a visionary charlatan on the run, encounters a dozen hungry slaves stranded in the Mississippi wilds. Led by the deceptively simple-looking Big Josh, together, they agree to build their own egalitarian plantation, with Hurst acting as figurehead “master” to hoodwink the town. But wise Big Josh fears that Hurst’s grandiose schemes may doom them all to the hangman’s noose.
In the town, the reclusive widow, Marie Brussard French, manipulates the region’s bankers and cotton brokers, everyone…except her frail, rebellious heir-apparent, Devereau. Driven by unbearable loneliness to mad acts, Devereau threatens to expose the family’s own tenuous façade—which would prove fatal to the Frenches.
Meanwhile, Antoinette DuVallier, a beautiful, Cassandra-like fugitive from New Orleans with mysterious ties to the Frenches, arrives on her own desperate mission. Her overpowering presence detonates long-repressed conflicts, unleashing a devastating upheaval of fire and blood that tears asunder the once-sleepy hamlet.
As the story’s tangled webs of deceit unravel, each startling plot twist and cathartic revelation shines a fresh light on what it means to be a man, a woman, free or enslaved—indeed, what it means to be human.
In Book 2, Honor Among Outcasts, after their harrowing escape from Mississippi, abolitionist Durksen Hurst, his fiancée Antoinette DuVallier, and their friends — a group of undocumented slaves — land in guerrilla-infested Civil War Missouri, the most savage whirlwind of destruction, cruelty, and death in American history. Trapped in a terrifying cycle of murder and revenge, scarred by Quantrill’s cold-blooded Lawrence massacre and the Union army’s ruthless Order Eleven, Durk and everyone he cares for soon find themselves entangled in a struggle for their very survival.
Honor Among Outcasts takes readers on a pulse-pounding journey of desperate men and women caught up in the merciless forces of hatred and fear that tear worlds apart, and the healing power of friendship to bring them together.
In I Shall Use My Freedom Well: Josiah Henson, Fugitive Slave (1789-1883) (Juliet Haines Mofford), Josiah Henson’s amazing life reveals the horrors of slavery and the determination of one individual to be free. This story of his perilous escape with a wife and four children on the Underground Railroad and subsequent fulfillment in Canada is chiefly drawn from his own writings.
Henson planned to purchase his liberty and earns money as an itinerant preacher. Cruelly betrayed by several masters, he narrowly escapes being put on the New Orleans slave block. Henson eventually founds a community for fugitives in Ontario to train ex-slaves in skills necessary to succeed as free Canadian citizens.
Like Harriet Tubman, Josiah Henson defied US laws to rescue many others out of bondage. He met Queen Victoria in England and visited a sitting president in the White House. Harriet Beecher Stowe credited him as inspiring her title character.
“Uncle Tom’s Cabin is not an exaggerated account of the evils of slavery,” Henson said. “The truth has never been half told for that tale would be too horrible to hear.”
We appreciate authors who put their hearts and souls into writing accurate portrayals of men and women who have come and gone before us—those men and women who have stood for what is right and fought for freedom, no matter the cost.
Throughout February, we will share articles from a few of our authors in celebration of Black History Month. Be sure to follow our blog to get notifications when the articles post. And thank you! You (our readers and followers) give meaning to what we do.