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 the trilogy.
The series follows the turbulent journey of a musically gifted slave, Lily who is fighting to survive in the era where oppression is just another way of life, and her master-by-proxy James Adams, who does everything in his power to help her achieve the freedom and success that he knows she was made for.
I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars as I not only loved the premises of the story, but also liked the narrative style that elevated the book beyond a simple master-slave romance.
After getting wrenched away from her mother at a tender age of 9, and getting sold at a Negro slave auction by her own father, young Lily is forced to face the harsh realities of her new life as a slave at the Adams household.
The only thing that manages to soothe her soul is piano, which she secretly teaches herself after listening to her mistress play.
Lily manages to keep her secret for 14 years, until her master's youngest son and her estranged childhood best friend, James, stumbles upon her playing his late mother's instrument the day he returns home to Virginia from Ohio after 6 years of studying medicines. What follows is a long journey of self-discovery, revelations and love that will change both of their lives forever.
The book is recommended for the mature audience who likes historical fiction, as it not only has an intricate storyline that holds your attention, but also gives a deep history and social impact of slavery.
I loved the emotions this story evokes. The multiple point of views gives it a wholesome feel as we get to see one event from many different standpoints.
The rules of slavery written in black and white provides a perfect introduction for each chapter, and I absolutely loved the way it progresses as it reaches the epilogue.
All the characters has been beautifully incorporated in the story. Every one of them have their own significant role to play, but that still doesn't overpower or distract the reader from its real story-line.
William, Anna Mae, Ben, and the gang of misfit bandits all carry the story in the right direction and all of their back stories gives a strong character to the story. You can't help but grow to respect, care and sympathise with all of them, even if you don't understand their motivations.
Lily and James' relationship is the highlight of the series, and not just because they are the lead couple, but because their relationship is far from perfect. Filled with distrust, jealousy and pride, they overcome both, social and personal hurdles before submitting to their feelings. I loved the fact that both of their reactions were humane and relatable, instead of heroic and fictional.
The way the author manages to vividly capture every psychological effect of slavery and oppression on both Lily and James is commendable as the rules of slavery and the punishment are clearly written down and ruthlessly implied. The characters are shown to slowly mature as they learn the realities of the world they live in, but still fight against it for what they believe in.
The detailed narration slows the story at times, making you want to skip the repetitive description. But that does not hinder the reading experience once you get used to the pace of the story.
The book is well written and professionally edited, with well-chosen words that isn't verbose, but still pulls you into the 1800s.
The whole journey to the winter garden and especially the epilogue leaves a deep impact on the readers, as the world that was woven through-out the book comes crashing down on key characters from all sides.
All in all, this book will make you laugh and cry, make your spirits soar high, but still give you a healthy dose of reality on the life of a woman who was filled to brim with talent just to be shackled in the laws of slavery and a world that dismisses her for her skin colour.
The Prodigy Slave, Book One: Journey to Winter Garden
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