This solid final volume of a trilogy follows characters through Texas independence and beyond.




A sprawling novel focuses on the burgeoning revolution in 19th-century Texas.

In this final installment of her historical fiction trilogy, Mills (Those Bones at Goliad, 2015, etc.) returns to the world of 1830s Texas. After the American settler losses at the Alamo and Goliad, Yarico Harper, the free black woman who serves as the trilogy’s central protagonist, is fighting for survival and looking to ensure the safety of a dead traveling companion’s 13-year-old daughter, Adeline. Yarico and the white women she journeys with team up with Capt. Juan Seguin and the pro-independence Texan army in a group that also includes James Trezevant, a fellow immigrant from Georgia. The narrative moves in time from one chapter to the next, following the band in its fight for independence from Mexico and exploring Trezevant’s privileged youth and Yarico’s origins in newly independent Haiti. The tale concludes with the post-revolution disposition of the characters. Although readers of the previous volumes will have a more complete understanding of the multifaceted plot, newcomers should have no trouble following the story as both Texas and Yarico find their places in the evolving United States. The characters explore questions of Manifest Destiny and slavery as they contend with war and shifting alliances, keeping the narrative grounded in history while addressing topics relevant to contemporary readers. On the whole, the story is deftly written and well-researched, based firmly in the details of Texas history. The tale steeps readers in the setting without becoming engrossed in historical trivia. But there are numerous minor errors in the characters’ Spanish (“buenos tardes” instead of buenas tardes; “buenos noches” instead of buenas noches; “Téjano” instead of Tejano) as well as in the narrative itself (“plaintiff moans” instead of plaintive moans; “said her peace”). And Mills’ tendency to frequently label her characters (Yarico, for instance, is variously identified as “the dark-skinned woman,” “the woman who’d belonged with the Pagnols,” and “the woman in servant’s garb,” among other descriptions) can become grating. Despite these shortcomings, the book is a substantial piece of thoughtful historical fiction.

This solid final volume of a trilogy follows characters through Texas independence and beyond.

Pub Date: N/A


Page Count: 271

Publisher: Plain View Press

Review Posted Online: March 8, 2018

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An exuberant comic opera set to the music of life.

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The versatile and accomplished McBride (Five Carat Soul, 2017, etc.) returns with a dark urban farce crowded with misjudged signals, crippling sorrows, and unexpected epiphanies.

It's September 1969, just after Apollo 11 and Woodstock. In a season of such events, it’s just as improbable that in front of 16 witnesses occupying the crowded plaza of a Brooklyn housing project one afternoon, a hobbling, dyspeptic, and boozy old church deacon named Cuffy Jasper "Sportcoat" Lambkin should pull out a .45-caliber Luger pistol and shoot off an ear belonging to the neighborhood’s most dangerous drug dealer. The 19-year-old victim’s name is Deems Clemens, and Sportcoat had coached him to be “the best baseball player the projects had ever seen” before he became “a poison-selling murderous meathead.” Everybody in the project presumes that Sportcoat is now destined to violently join his late wife, Hettie, in the great beyond. But all kinds of seemingly disconnected people keep getting in destiny's way, whether it’s Sportcoat’s friend Pork Sausage or Potts, a world-weary but scrupulous white policeman who’s hoping to find Sportcoat fast enough to protect him from not only Deems’ vengeance, but the malevolent designs of neighborhood kingpin Butch Moon. All their destines are somehow intertwined with those of Thomas “The Elephant” Elefante, a powerful but lonely Mafia don who’s got one eye trained on the chaos set off by the shooting and another on a mysterious quest set in motion by a stranger from his crime-boss father’s past. There are also an assortment of salsa musicians, a gentle Nation of Islam convert named Soup, and even a tribe of voracious red ants that somehow immigrated to the neighborhood from Colombia and hung around for generations, all of which seems like too much stuff for any one book to handle. But as he's already shown in The Good Lord Bird (2013), McBride has a flair for fashioning comedy whose buoyant outrageousness barely conceals both a steely command of big and small narrative elements and a river-deep supply of humane intelligence.

An exuberant comic opera set to the music of life.

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7352-1672-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: Dec. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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More Hallmarkiana, from a shameless expert in the genre.


High-stakes weepmeister Sparks (A Walk to Remember, 1999, etc.) opts for a happy ending his fourth time out. His writing has improved—though it's still the equivalent of paint-by-numbers—and he makes use this time of at least a vestige of credible psychology.

That vestige involves the deep dark secret—it has something to do with his father's death when son Taylor was nine—that haunts kind, good 36-year-old local contractor Taylor McAden and makes him withdraw from relationships whenever they start getting serious enough to maybe get permanent. He's done this twice before, and now he does it again with pretty and sweet single mother Denise Holton, age 29, who's moved from Atlanta to Taylor's town of Edenton, North Carolina, in order to devote her time more fully to training her four-year-old son Kyle to overcome the peculiar impediment he has that keeps him from achieving normal language acquisition. Okay? When Denise has a car accident in a bad storm, she's rescued by volunteer fireman Taylor—who also rescues little Kyle after he wanders away from his injured mom in the storm. Love blooms in the weeks that follow—until Taylor suddenly begins putting on the brakes. What is it that holds him back, when there just isn't any question but that he loves Denise and vice versa-not to mention that he's "great" with Kyle, just like a father? It will require a couple of near-death experiences (as fireman Taylor bravely risks his life to save others); emotional steadiness from the intelligent, good, true Denise; and the terrible death of a dear and devoted friend before Taylor will come to the point at last of confiding to Denise the terrible memory of how his father died—and the guilt that's been its legacy to Taylor. The psychological dam broken, love will at last be able to flow.

More Hallmarkiana, from a shameless expert in the genre.

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2000

ISBN: 0-446-52550-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2000

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