In his latest historical novel, Larranaga tells the story of an ex-soldier who becomes a civilian blockade runner during the Civil War.
Much of the novel’s action revolves around events that occur after the Union Army attacks Florida’s Cedar Keys in 1862. Ed Canfield’s friends and family become hostages at a refugee camp overrun by crooked Confederate soldiers. Soon Canfield fights both Union and Rebel soldiers in an effort to save his family and neighbors. Canfield has been hardened by his experiences in the Mexican-American war, which continue to haunt him; the author’s descriptions of Canfield’s experiences will give readers insight on the realities of front-line soldiers’ lives during that era. (There’s also a romance subplot, after Canfield meets the spirited Maureen Foster.) Battle scenes abound throughout this novel, as do detailed and well-researched descriptions of 19th-century Florida, down to the trees and animals that flourished there at the time. Indeed, the Florida setting is an important part of the novel’s appeal, with scenes set in Key West, where the Union gained control, and in the Everglades. The story also engagingly depicts the lives of freed and runaway slaves living deep in the Florida backwoods. Most Civil War novels feature the usual battle scenes of Gettysburg, Antietam or Shiloh, and many readers will find the action in this novel, set off Florida’s Gulf coast, a welcome change. Overall, Larranaga delivers an engaging history lesson as well as a page-turning adventure.
A historical adventure that Civil War buffs, and especially Floridians, will enjoy.