4 out of 4 stars
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The Prodigy Slave, Book One: Journey to Winter Garden by Londyn Skye is the first book in a trilogy. James Adams never felt like he belonged in Fayetteville, Virginia, in 1849. His family owned several slaves that worked on their plantation. James always thought it was wrong for a person to own another person. He often questioned the morality of humanity and asked God why He would allow such a thing to continue.
Jesse Adams, James’ father, bought Lily in an auction to be their house slave when she was only 10 years old. She was about the same age as James. James and Lily soon became the best of friends. James would sometimes help Lily with household chores while they talked and laughed and enjoyed each other’s company. But when James’ father found James on his hands and knees scrubbing the kitchen floor next to Lily, that was the end of their relationship. From that moment on, James was forced to treat Lily in a manner that was appropriate for slaves. Lily not only lost her best friend, but James had become her taskmaster.
James left home for six years to attend medical school. One day he returned to the house and found Lily playing the family’s piano. James discovered that his friend, Lily, had an extraordinary God-given gift of music. James never broke character in his role as “slave owner,” but things were not as they appeared to be on the surface. He never stopped loving his friend, Lily, and he proved it over and over again, even when Lily was not aware of it. He had a plan to get her away from that plantation.
The expert character development was the best feature of this book. My favorite secondary characters were the outlaws hired to protect Lily. Even these hardened criminals came to love her.
Lily and James were the main characters. James was a very fallible, imperfect, and impulsive person. James had to make his father believe that he was becoming the man Jesse wanted him to be. Lily's life depended on it. For 14 years, all he thought of was protecting Lily from the cruelty of his father and his brother, J.R., while working the slaves on the plantation. He lived with night terrors about ways Lily could have been harmed.
I thought it was cruel for James to let Lily believe that he was taking her to a slave breeder in Ohio. Lily was already suicidal and desperate, thinking that she was going to be bred like an animal. James could have alleviated that suffering by explaining what he had planned. I understand why he didn’t tell her the truth right away. He had no idea how the scenario would play out, and other people involved in the plan could have gotten hurt. But I would have been more forthcoming with Lily.
James' love for Lily was totally unselfish. He wanted to elevate her life to be more than that of a slave. But most of all, he wanted to let the world experience her gift of music. James thought Lily was so extraordinary that he was willing to put his career as a doctor on hold to help her. At this time in American history, an indentured Negro woman was considered to be a lesser creature. So for Lily to be allowed to perform on a stage or in a theatre was almost an impossibility. The technique that allowed Lily to perform on stage and to protect her identity was nothing short of brilliant! Her musical gift was not the only extraordinary thing about her. The strength of character that shone through Lily in the face of hatred, rejection, and threats was phenomenal.
The ending of this first book in the trilogy was baffling to me. It creates a cliffhanger and gives the reader a powerful reason to read the next book, but I did not like the way the book ended.
The book has intense themes of family, love, and slavery. I felt like I was reliving an unimaginable and regrettable part of American history. The Prodigy Slave is well-written and professionally edited. I didn’t find any errors or typos. The story, the phrasing of the sentences, and the dialogue were all beautifully done. From the beginning, I was swept up in the raw emotion of the story. I would recommend this book to anyone who would enjoy a beautiful love story in the context of a racially divided America in the mid-1800s. The story contains graphic sexuality, so this book is for a mature audience. Even though I didn't like the ending, this book clearly deserves a rating of 4 out of 4 stars. I thoroughly enjoyed the story.
The Prodigy Slave, Book One: Journey to Winter Garden
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