online book club – A cobbler's tale
Full of action and definitely captivating, A Cobbler's Tale by Neil Perry Gordon chronicles the journey of one Jewish family fleeing from war in the former Austro-Hungarian Empire to settle in the US.
It is the early 1900s and the Jews in the village of Krzywcza know that things are about to get worse and many are leaving their homes to settle in the US where they can escape persecution and provide better lives for their families. Pincus Potasznik is one such man but he is unsure his wife Clara will agree to his departure. He convinces her and soon he is on a ship headed to America. He meets Jakob on the voyage and they forge a long lasting friendship. Unlike Pincus, Jakob is fleeing from his past deeds and intends to start a new life when they arrive. While having to work full time to establish his shoe-making business and Jakob getting involved with gangs, Pincus has his hands full. Worse still, World War I is about to begin and Pincus might not be able to go back for his family.
I loved that the plot does not run out of action scenes and many are emotionally gripping. The book is quite fascinating as every turn consists of a riveting scene. In the first part of the book, the unfair treatment that the Jews receive from the authorities is quite evident and even after the Potaszniks leave their homeland and start their life in America, challenges follow them there. Jakob's involvement with ruthless gangs makes the book even more fascinating as surprises occur.
The fact that it is loosely based on real events makes it feel more authentic. Neil Perry Gordon bases the story on his great-grandparents' immigration experiences. Even though the plot has been changed to create room for more action, it still reflects the challenges that many Jewish families faced even before the start of WWI in the Austro-Hungarian region.
The characters are not perfect and each of them does what is required for them to survive which makes them relatable and appear real. Clara is daring and she is willing to do whatever it takes to save her family. She takes on the responsibility of leading her family when her husband is away and she does so remarkably. Pincus is ambitious and wants to provide his family with the best life that he can offer. Despite his shy personality, he risks his life many times to protect those that he loves. Jakob, on the other hand, values friendship even if he is caught up in illegal activities.
The editing of the book is well done and the plot is fascinating. A Cobbler's Tale by Neil Perry Gordon would appeal to readers who appreciate action-packed stories that contain the themes of immigration, survival and war.
midwest book review – a cobbler's tale
Synopsis: In 1910, Pincus Potasznik, a Jewish cobbler, left his pregnant wife and three small children to sail for America. His goal is to seek a new life for his family in the burgeoning Lower East Side of Manhattan.
On his traumatic voyage across the Atlantic on the SS Amerika steamship, Pincus meets Jakob Adler, a young man running from an accidental murder of a notorious crime boss in Warsaw. Opportunities await them in New York, but it's not an easy time for Jewish immigrants.
A few years later, while enjoying the spoils of his business and helped along with Jakob's unlawful contributions, Pincus realizes he made a terrible mistake. But the opportunity to return to his family has almost closed due to the outbreak of World War 1. Now he must face a decision, should he risk going back to Europe to rescue them from a war they could all die in, or is it better to wait in New York and build his fortune?
Born in a small shtetl in the province of Galicia, part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Pincus has yearned all his life for wealth and the freedom it will bring, but what price will he have to pay for his dreams?
As the bloody battles of World War I explodes within miles of the family home, in a small village called Krzywcza, Moshe, the son of Pincus and Clara Potasznik, discovers a divine ability to foretell dire events, and to offer comfort to those in pain, taking us deep into the world of ancient Jewish mysticism, known as the Kabbalah.
Will Pincus do the right thing? And can Moshe foresee what's to come for his own family?
Critique: An inherently engaging and intrinsically interesting read from beginning to end, "A Cobbler's Tale" showcases author Neil Perry Gordon's genuine flair for narrative storytelling and his attention to historical detail. A deftly crafted and original novel that will linger in the mind and memory long after it is finished and set back upon the shelf, "A Cobbler's Tale" is especially and unreservedly recommended for community library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "A Cobbler's Tale" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).
midwest book review – moon flower
Synopsis: It's the year 1675. Eighteen-year-old Lukas Pietersen is about to consume the ceremonial substance, known as Moon Flower.
The potent seeds from this nighttime blooming plant, as prepared and administered by a shaman, will cause Lukas to lose his memory and begin his quest to become a warrior of the Pequawket tribe.
"Moon Flower" by Neil Perry Gordon is an epic tale that follows Lukas, a young boy in the Dutch controlled territory of New Amsterdam, as he meets chiefs, shamans, warriors, and the English army on his quest to seek a connection with the Great Spirit.
From the New World to the city of Amsterdam, down to the slave coast of West Africa, and across the Atlantic Ocean to the slave mart of Charles Town, "Moon Flower" tells the story of Lukas Pietersen's adventures and his battles with a fearsome evil spirt known as the Wendigo.
Critique: A seventeenth century tale of a young man's search for the Great Spirit, "Moon Flower" is an impressively crafted and entertaining read that showcases author Neil Perry Gordon's genuine flair for originality and narrative driven storytelling. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Moon Flower" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).
kirkus review – the righteous one
This second installment of a religious thriller series stars a humble cobbler.
Gordon’s (The Cobbler’s Tale, 2018) novel continues the story of the legendary tzaddik, a group of 36 pious and supernaturally gifted Jews who always exist in the world in a kind of mystical balance with their evil counterparts, the rasha. Moshe the cobbler, a humorous and unassuming worker in New York, is a tzaddik, the son of a man named Pincus Potasznik, who founded a secret group called the Landsman Society of Krzywcza. For years, New York City Councilman Arnold Lieberman has been searching for the son of Pincus in order to recruit him in the age-old fight against the rasha, here in the form of a Bronx-based Jewish gangster named Solomon Blass and his ruthless son, Myron. Only a teenager in the first book, Moshe is now 60 years old and decidedly nonheroic in his daily routine. But Lieberman is persistent, and soon Moshe is embroiled in a battle that sprawls over the real world and the dream realm. Gordon writes all of this in a smoothly controlled narrative that’s equally adept at both the small, personal details—each main character is well shaped and the bad guys are every bit as three-dimensional as the good guys—and the larger philosophical tapestry inscribed with the minutiae of the cabala. “In order to connect with the Light, we must learn how to face the Opposition, the source of life’s challenges,” readers are told at one point. “The uninitiated at first cringe at this term. However in order to achieve authentic spiritual growth, the Opposition must not be feared, instead it must be accepted as a blessing from the Creator.” Throughout the enjoyable sequel, the author playfully overlays the quotidian New York reality onto a dramatic supernatural backdrop whose existence most ordinary people never suspect. This second volume can easily be read independent of the first.
An entertaining, thought-provoking fantasy in which a plainspoken protagonist is enlisted in a war.
the prairies book review – the bomb squad
The handsomely-crafted plot and a swift pace makes this historical thriller an engrossing read...
A devastating explosion at Black Tom Island in New York City opens Gordon's richly detailed first installment in the Clash of the Patriots series set against the background of World War I. Dr. Harold Schwartz, the administrator of Ellis Island Immigrant Hospital, is a German spy in disguise, working under his father's command, a close friend of Kaiser Wilhelm and a dealer in lethal weapons, to keep Americans away from the war. The father-son duo are the masterminds behind German espionage activity wreaking havoc along the Eastern Seaboard and among steamships attempting to cross the Atlantic.
When the British Secret Intelligence Service collaborates with American police and recruits New York City police detective Max Rothman to assemble the Bomb Squad, a team of German-speaking specialists, to probe into the sudden surge of German espionage activity, Schwartz's mission falls in jeopardy. The stakes rise as the two patriots come face to face. But who will win the battle?
Gordon skillfully blends the two different story lines, the one about the two patriots caught up in a drama of passion and loyalty and the other about aristocrats maneuvering for power at the uppermost levels. He has a good feel for the period as he skillfully evokes the Germania society with its deeply ingrained political convictions and illuminates the events of both individual lives and the political forces that characterized the tumultuous World War I era. Despite a large cast of characters, Gordon keeps them all clearly distinguishable: Max with his intelligence, integrity, courage and sensitivity makes for a worthy hero for the series; Harold surprises the reader with his gentle side; the members of the Bomb Squad are a nice bunch, and the reader will wait eagerly for their upcoming adventures; other characters are constructed nicely, though women in the story are somewhat brittle and mostly stay unremarkable.
The pacing is fast with numerous plot twists and shocking revelations, and the action is plenty: conspiracy follows conspiracy, opportunistic aristocrats swipe loyalties, and dangerous secrets are unraveled. Espionage operations and political conspiracies add to the intrigue of the story whereas undercover spies, intimidating villains, and chivalrous heroes add further weight to the stellar cast. With its engrossing storyline and suspenseful plotting, the book will appeal equally to lovers of historical fiction and period action thrillers. Readers will wait eagerly for the next installment.
book viral – the bomb squad
A conceptually impressive, tightly wound thriller, far too many war-based novels favour action and adventure at the expense of plot but Gordon finds a more equitable balance and in doing so The Bomb Squad: Clash of The Patriots proves an absorbing and intelligent read that engages from the start.
Revolving around historical events it certainly isn't an archetypal war novel as Gordon takes us beyond a predictable pseudo-historical slant to give his readers a more clandestine and thought-provoking perspective.
As a wartime adventure, it's an exciting one. Laden with double-crossing and unexpected adversities that take us from New York to Cologne with Gordon demonstrating a fine eye for detail when it comes to setting up plot and characters.
The plotting is tightly wound, but rather than get bogged down in painstakingly explicated motives we follow Max and Harold through a kinetic series of escalating events that immerse us in his narrative.
The test of a good thriller is when you stop thinking about the mechanics of the plot and start caring about the people and Max, in particular, has a certain offhand appeal which makes him highly endearing. More importantly, Gordon gives us characters that respect the intelligence of his readers.
Writing in an ever-popular genre is never easy and Gordon has delivered a genuine gem of a read with The Bomb Squad: Clash of The Patriots being highly recommended.
the prairies book review – hope city
A sweeping adventurous tale...
Set in 1898, Gordon’s briskly paced, highly entertaining tale focuses on a teenage Jewish boy who ventures into the wilderness of Alaskan goldfields to seek his fortune but finds himself in the middle of a war between the good and evil. When 17-year-old Samuel Rothman boarded a ship from San Francisco with his best friend Liam Kampen for Alaska to try his luck in gold mining, he had nothing else but a bit of adventure and some riches on his mind. But seeking a fortune in a small Alaskan town where the good and the righteous are relentlessly in a war with their ruthless opponents is not as easy as it seems on the surface: Samuel must tread his way carefully or risk losing himself to the wild, unforgiving Alaskan terrains.
An adventurous story at heart, the narrative goes far beyond the exploration of Samuel’s journey as a gold-digger in the small mining town: Gordon sweeps Samuel up in the turmoil of a town torn apart by a ruthless war between the good and the greedy, creating a remarkable coming-of-age story as the latter realizes his true aspirations. Gordon’s beautifully imagined prose has clarity and dimension, and he keeps the pacing relatively quick and does justice to the impressive array of characters. Samuel’s emergence from a typical teenage self-doubt is beautifully imagined. Ripe on unforeseen twists and shocking turns, this fast-paced adventure will delight action-adventure fans as well as lovers of nuanced coming-of-age tales.
This is a complete entertainment package.
the nerdy girl express – hope city
The hunt for gold was a time of discovery and excitement for many people. Neil Gordon Perry has crafted a story that takes this time period and allows readers to connect with two friends on their journey in Alaska. Hope City is the type of story that will remind people of the beloved stories like Call of the Wild that bring the adventures of the past to a present audience in an engaging way.
Samuel Rothman and his best friend Liam Kampen are two San Francisco teenagers who decide that they want to try their luck in the Alaskan wilderness. In the summer of 1898 they head out, but Samuel is told to hide his Jewish heritage in order to protect himself from ruffians. He takes on the new name of Percy Hope and this choice will lead to a curious time in an unnamed mining town. The good and righteous will find themselves facing off against greedy and ruthless adversaries. Hope City will become a beacon of virtue and hope, while Sunrise, a villainous saloon owner will tempt prospects with all the evils of liquor, gambling, and women.
For those who have not read Neil Perry Gordon’s works before, Hope City is a wonderful addition to his historical fiction works. He excels at creating such rich locations and his ability to weave in morality type stories within his larger narratives speaks to a deep desire for happy endings. Hope City shows a main character who must struggle his way out of toils and hardships in order to make his way back to a life of virtue in a place that is full of ambitious and sometimes immoral people.
book viral – hope city
Historical fiction often struggles to find an original perspective but sometimes a novel comes along that is markedly different and in this respect, Hope City takes some beating as Gordon returns us to the feverish days of 1898 and the lawless goldfields of the Alaskan wilderness.
Readers familiar with Gordon’s previous releases such as The Bomb Squad will know his novels are far more than plot and drama and in Hope City, we quickly come to appreciate the stark realities and wide-ranging possibilities gold prospectors of old faced. On this level, Hope City is parsimonious with its plot, which is revealed on a need-to-know basis and told from the alternating perspectives of Percy Hope and Magnus Vega whilst the historical figure of Simon Wible adds both intrigue and authenticity.
Yes, as befitting the genre you will find its time favored tropes, yet in Gordon’s capable hands they feel wrenchingly right. Evoking a sense of folly built by greed where common sense would have steered clear. But the real treasure in Hope City is to be found in its character development with Gordon once again demonstrating a gift for nuance that vividly brings his characters to life.
A rich and dramatic page-turner with a shocking twist, Hope City proves a must-read and is highly recommended.
midwest book review – the bomb squad
The Bomb Squad: Clash of The Patriots
Neil Perry Gordon
9781732667778, $13.99, PB, 411pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: At the stroke of midnight, a devastating explosion at Black Tom Island, an armaments depot, rocks New York City awake; and so begins "The Bomb Squad: Clash of The Patriots", the story of two patriots in World War I, each willing to put his life on the line in order to achieve a glorious victory for his cause.
Serving the Fatherland is Dr. Harold Schwartz, administrator of the prestigious Ellis Island Immigrant Hospital and a German spy. Along with his father, a dealer in lethal weapons and a lifelong friend of Kaiser Wilhelm, Schwartz is hell-bent on distracting the Americans from entering the war.
Meanwhile, the British Secret Intelligence Service recruits highly regarded New York City police detective Max Rothman to assemble a team of German-speaking specialists, known as the Bomb Squad. Their mission is to investigate the sudden surge of German espionage activity wreaking havoc along the Eastern Seaboard and among steamships attempting to cross the Atlantic.
"The Bomb Squad" follows these men's exploits through an interconnecting tale of love, loss, friendship, and betrayal, stretching from American shores to the epicenter of German power during a time when the world is at war.
Critique: A deftly crafted historical novel of World War I, "The Bomb Squad: Clash of The Patriots", author and novelist Neil Perry Gordon has provided an extraordinary and memorable entertaining read of espionage and suspense that is laced throughout with unexpected twists and turns. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Historical Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Bomb Squad: Clash of The Patriots" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).
midwest book review – hope city
Hope City: The Alaskan Adventures of Percy Hope
Neil Perry Gordon
9781732667761, $16.99, PB, 389pp
Synopsis: Warned by his father to conceal his Jewish heritage from the ruffians he may encounter, Samuel Rothman changes his name to the less conspicuous Percy Hope. This fateful decision gives a yet-unnamed mining village a new identity and catapults Percy into a world where the good and the righteous must face greedy and ruthless adversaries.
Along a waterway known as Turnagain Arm, the newly named Hope City and the more established Sunrise are like opposite sisters. The good and virtuous Hope, with a Catholic church led by the influential Reverend O'Hara, admonishes residents against committing the seven deadly sins. In Sunrise, villainous saloon owner Magnus Vega tempts prospectors with whiskey, gambling, and women.
"Hope City: The Alaskan Adventures of Percy Hope" weaves the tale of a young man falling down a rabbit hole of unexpected hardships and struggling to find his way out, amid a wild and unforgiving environment where ambitious men and women seek their fortunes.
Critique: A deftly crafted turn-of-the-20th- century historical action/adventure novel "Hope City: The Alaskan Adventures of Percy Hope" showcases author Neil Perry Gordon's impressive narrative skills with an inherently absorbing and fully entertaining story replete with unforeseen plot twists turns eventually culminating in an unexpected and shocking conclusion. While especially and unreservedly recommended addition to community and college/university library Historical Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Hope City: The Alaskan Adventures of Percy Hope" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).
book viral – sadie's sin
From Warsaw to Buenos Aires Gordon takes us on an exhilarating journey that reflects the best and worst in human nature. A high octane romantic thriller where love, honour and organized crime come crashing together to deliver an intelligent and instantly engaging read.
Masterfully maintaining an ever-present balance between tension and suspense Gordon shuns excessive detail in favour of crisp prose, authentic dialogue and powerful social commentary. Imbuing his characters with a real sense of presence as he confidently weaves multiple plot threads without the need to revert to genre tropes.
Gordon certainly has a knack for creating characters with real gravitas. He clearly demonstrates this in his previous novels The Bomb Squad and Hope City and once again in Sadie’s Sin. Alex and Sadie are highly memorable and well-conceived. But Gordon still allows them room for growth as events evolve and it makes for superb fictional dynamics.
Authentically capturing a bygone era in which women were viewed as the prizes in a male game Sadie’s Sin is a showdown between its style and story. Combining Gordon’s slick, high-tension writing with the values and sexual stereotyping of yesterday whilst reminding us of loves sometimes harrowing consequences in times past.
A compelling and persuasive read that explores the foundations of unconditional love, the dictates of faith and the ever resounding echo of hope, Gordon has delivered a gem of a page-turner that is recommended without reservation.
the prairies book review – sadie's sin
A fast-paced, gripping historical drama…
Gordon delivers an engrossing tale of love, sacrifice, and betrayal, set in 1924 in Poland and Argentina. Sadie Wollman, a young Jewess, falls in love with the war hero and university professor, Alexander Kaminski, and falls prey to the Zwi Migdal, a Jewish organized-crime group trafficking young women into forced prostitution throughout brothels in Buenos Aires, after her parents arrange her brokered marriage to a wealthy Argentine Jewish business man and sends her away.
When Alex learns of the deception, he sets on a dangerous journey to save his lady love from a terrible fate. Gordon evokes the post-first-world-war era with fascinating detail and perception, skillfully recreating the period’s feel in the characters’ passionate pursuits. Sadie’s struggle with her Jewish identity is etched in reality, as her family challenges her loyalty to the religion.
Gordon skillfully explores the blurred lines between love and faith as the couple struggle with their own dilemma and the choices of those they love. Alex’s determination and sacrifice as a lover make for an affecting love story. The narrative is rife with tension and plenty of suspense in the background.
Gordon is expert at creating action scenes and makes the carrying out of the dangerous pursuit by Alex and Jan Mazur on the sailing ship both exciting and credible. The brutal reality of innocent women becoming victims of sex-trafficking rings in 1920s Argentina is on full view with shocking clarity. Lovers of historical thrillers are in for a treat.
book viral – cape nome
A story of pluck and survival at a time when men poured into Alaska dreaming of riches, and more likely found disillusionment and death, Cape Nome continues the story of Percy Hope and once again finds Gordon on great form.
As with Gordon's first installment in his Goldfield series, Cape Nome is an adventure story with all the expected traits of the genre whilst reaching higher to deal with the values of loyalty, friendship, perseverance and love.
Part dreamer, part hardened by the realities he's faced, but always true to his word, Percy has certainly matured since his adventures in Hope City yet still retains his appeal as he tells his story alternated with that of Magnus Vega.
It's a journey of exploration, it's exciting, it stirs the imagination, with oodles of terrific suspense but there's also a wholesome element to Gordon's's narrative. And whilst violence is never too far away their stories are an antidote to the violent and defeatist thrillers that many of today's readers seem hooked on.
Good men die, bad men grow rich. That's life. And the magic of Cape Nome is that Gordon captures the essence of humanity that exists between those two extremes. And you'd have to have a pretty hard heart not to be touched by it.
For discerning readers of Historical Fiction Cape Nome and its prequel, Percy Hope are must-reads. Receiving an unconditional five stars from the team at BookViral Cape Nome is unreservedly recommended!
~ Book Viral
the prairies book review – otzi's odyssey
Richly researched, ornately plotted… A page-turner.
Gordon’s latest is a deeply engrossing metaphysical tale of one soul’s journey to redemption. When a mummified man, half frozen in glacial ice, is discovered by two hikers, it’s just the beginning of a treacherous journey into the four demonic realms of Gehenna for the five-thousand-year-old soul of Bhark. Bhark must prepare for a vicious war if he wants to find salvation and redemption of his eternal soul. This is an intriguing story, haunting and moving, set in the violent, terrifying world of both living and dead, a world in which soul hunters prey on innocent souls, making them captives for eternity. This is also the story of family bonds, love, revenge, and redemption. The novel, narrated by Bhark from the discovery of Ötzi’s body, crisscrosses through time, cutting between past and present. This structure, which might have become a distraction in a novice writer’s hands, adds to the story’s intrigue. Gordon’s vivid imagery, deft characterization, and entertaining storytelling carry the reader through this suspenseful tale. A haunting, visceral novel that will keep the reader awake until they turn the last page.
midwest book review – otzi's odyssey
Ötzi's Odyssey - The Troubled Soul of a Neolithic Iceman is a metaphysical fantasy thriller. It embraces these genres in a manner that will intrigue and delight readers looking for something refreshingly action-packed, employing a different flavor in timelines that move from modern to prehistoric eras and back again.
Ötzi the caveman's mummified body is found trapped in ice, in 1991. What isn't trapped is his soul, which awakens from its long sleep to find itself in a strange new world.
In an effort to uncover answers to many questions about his life and reincarnation, Ötzi journeys from present to past. This brings readers into his perception of caveman conflicts and daily life and the conundrums his journey poses not only to that world, but present-day events.
Imagine waking up to see your frozen body. Neil Perry Gordon paints a vivid picture of Ötzi's awakening: "While I observed a body, half-buried in the glacial ice, I could not reach out and touch it. While I heard the shrieking winds, I could not feel the frigid snow being pushed up into towering drifts. While I shouted my anguish aloud, my words fell silent on the mountainside. If it is true that I existed, then it must be also true that I am not of body."
As he struggles to answer haunting questions of how his soul remains connected to his body, and what the purpose of his reincarnation serves, readers follow him a journey that brings him to Jolly Jane, who joins him and others in this strange state of being half-alive.
Jane was known as a murderess, committing others to death because it "helped her cope." Ötzi sold his soul to the devil in a bargain which has apparently landed him in this position. Both find themselves undertaking a journey through tortured souls, guided by a Voice that seems to inject a higher purpose to their conditions and present-day dilemmas.
Gordon's story is thought-provoking, action-packed, and thoroughly unpredictable. Spiritual wisdom and guidance juxtapose nicely with the adventure component to keep readers both entertained and enlightened.
As memories of past life and loved ones are channeled in unexpected ways, Ötzi must find the courage to follow his calling through past lives and into a future where he makes better choices.
Readers who enjoy more than casual metaphysical inspection, spiced with the thriller components of an adventure through past and present realms, will relish Ötzi's Odyssey. The story is highly recommended for fantasy, spirituality, and thriller collections alike.
~ D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review
book viral – denali
Percy Hope's come a long way since the summer of 1898 when he first set foot in the goldfields of the Alaskan wilderness and Neil Perry Gordon's final release in his 'Goldfield Trilogy' builds on the strength of previously released novels Hope City and Cape Nome.
Good U.S. Historical Fiction these days may be too few and far between, but Denali is up there with the best of them and is at its core, a story well-told and built upon the solid foundation of Gordon's superbly capable writing.
Artfully exciting and compulsively readable Gordon's narrative has an easy swing to it and his dialogue is pitch-perfect with his enticing plot eschewing the genre's typical myth making for something a little more off the beaten path with its supernatural twist.
In common with Gordon's previous releases in his 'Goldfield Trilogy' Denali is an intimate character piece; it has moments of wittiness but also shocking tragedy; it delves into larger themes like the impact of greed and corruption, and yet it offers the hope of redemption.
One of Gordon's many strengths as an author is an uncanny ability to find a character's backbone and communicate it and Percy Hope hits all the right notes: honesty, dignity, loyalty - and much of Denali's simple power is owed to the grounded nature of Percy's character.
Returning in Denali are Liam and Peggy and the emotional insight Gordon brings to the latter in particular brings his narrative up an extra notch in a contemplative plot that's delivered with nail-biting drama. And as all the pieces fall in their places Gordon rewards his readers with an assured, thought-provoking window into a past whose legacy is still being felt to this day.
A standout read that should play well to under-served U.S. Historical Fiction genre fans Denali is an unreservedly recommended five-star read.
Thunder Falls: The Education of Leopold Red Wolf belongs in any collection strong in Western fiction and Native American literature. It explores the evolution of protagonist Leopold Wolf in the mid-1800s. His journey led him to become an outspoken Native American rights advocate at an era when the concept of Native rights was barely an idea, much less a reality.
The roots of Wolf's quest actually begin when he is eight and observes his mother's terrible death when a cannonball is fired through their house by the Confederacy during the opening days of the Battle of Carlisle. Tasked with taking care of his father at too young an age, Wolf grows up with the weight of the adult world on his young shoulders. This sets the stage for his later involvement in the Carlisle Indian School, which employs Wolf and Son Woodworking in a much-needed building job.
Little did he realize that the business arrangement would lead to social change and revised purpose in his life: "Much as I was involved in crafting every inch of those structures, what I didn’t know was how my life was going to change once the Carlisle Indian School opened its doors, and how my narrowed outlook on the world would cease to exist."
Neil Perry Gordon juxtaposes fictional drama with historical fact in a satisfying way, bringing to life the milieu of the late 1800s and the political influences on Native American lives and futures.
As Wolf comes to many new realizations that revolutionize his life trajectory, so readers absorb the politics and influences of times which lead Wolf to make uncommon decisions that lead him to become an advocate for Native Americans.
The story unfolds a rich contrast between ethical and moral values and the social compass of changing White society and Native Americans alike as issues of assimilation, repression, and civil rights rise to the forefront.
This showcase of history encourages important dialogues between contemporary readers and book clubs interested in the too-wild West and methods by which it was perceived, tamed, and controlled.
Libraries and readers seeking a fictional story that attracts with realistic scenarios and influences will find Thunder Falls a powerful social observation of many of the forces in this bygone world which continue to influence behaviors and choices today.
The story concludes in a cliffhanger which portends further coverage of Wolf's journey and education, maintaining that, despite all the events that have influenced him, his real education is just beginning.
~ D. Donovan, Sr. Reviewer, Midwest Book Review
midwest book review – THUNDER FALLS
Between Two Gates is a novel of visionary fiction that opens with a death. This might seem an unlikely starting point for a novel, but this story represents a new beginning as the thirty-two-year-old protagonist's life stops from drug abuse and then experiences a transformation in the afterlife.
Samuel's spirit is welcomed by his grandfather, and the two embark on a quest that embraces Samuel's transitioning "...from your life on the Earth to the next stage of your existence."
The structure of the plot takes the form of a three-act production (sans the usual drama screenplay of character calls and responses). It features a wide-ranging spiritual flow, from Samuel's calling to traverse Gehenna's five realms to his confrontation with disparate forms of heaven, hell, and purgatory.
His wise grandfather calls his current abode a "...good place. A natural place where we continue to exist until that time when we’re called upon to make our return.”
Samuel's task is to embrace his destiny, rescue his great-great-grandfather from dangerous entity Solomon, and confront his own karmic heritage while fielding angels and fairies alike.
The spiritual and ethereal nature of this metaphysical work requires of its readers a mind open to non-traditional concepts of the afterlife. Those harboring such inclinations will find Between Two Gates a wide-ranging, mind-hopping journey that offers tantalizing insights into destiny and life purpose:
“You keep trying to lure me. But you should know I am not the same naive soul I was when I arrived. I’ve learned much already, and you should know this: I want nothing to do with you or your kind.”
Solomon laughed. “You think you’ve changed; that’s nonsense. We’ve known each other from previous lifetimes, and we’re destined for more. You have no power to break this karmic cycle.”
Readers who also harbor affection for philosophical reflection receive this in droves as Samuel confronts others and self in an afterlife journey that cements his karma and the impact of "doomed desires" that affect and direct his world.
The result is a powerful novel of realization, redemption, and afterlife conundrums that is especially recommended for audiences interested in considering the lasting impact of their choices and the power of love. Samuel's heroic and epic struggles play out on an afterlife stage replete with thought-provoking insights that will prove as suitable for book club and spirituality group debates as for individual contemplation.
Libraries and readers seeking a visionary story that juxtaposes adventures with afterlife considerations will find Between Two Gates compelling and hard to put down.
~ Diane Donovan
midwest book review – BETWEEN TWO GATES