4 out of 4 stars
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For 9-year-old James Adams, it was love at first sight, but it would start as something simpler, friendship. From the moment young James set his eyes on the new slave girl coming out of his father's wagon in shackles, his curiosity got the better of him. Everything (different) about her struck him, and he would spy on her whenever or however he could. Eventually, his crush, Lily, notices him, and a unique bond of friendship is formed between them. Their friendship blooms for a while until it is discovered by James' father, who ruthlessly ends it. James is taught to act like the master he is, and Lily learns to remain in her position as a slave. James eventually leaves for school, and many years pass before Lily meets her former best friend again, but this time, on strict master-servant grounds. Will they, against all odds, be able to rekindle their relationship?
This is the most striking book I have read in a long while. Besides the interesting storyline and captivating characters, the central themes, which were slavery and love, had a strong effect on me. Through this masterpiece, Skye demonstrated how inherently evil and dehumanizing slavery was. Slaves had no right to anything, including their own lives and their children; everything belonged to the masters. Despite being purely a work of fiction, this book was as real as life could be. Honestly, this book was a long and emotional read, but I enjoyed every bit of it. Londyn Skye outdid herself on this one. Other than the few punctuation errors I came across, I had a seamless read, so I believe this book was professionally edited. The Prodigy Slave, Book One: Journey to Winter Garden is officially one of my favorite books, and it has duly earned 4 out of 4 stars.
Narrated from the omniscient point of view, the plot unfolded in a non-chronological order through the dramatic use of flashbacks. The language was very old-fashioned and informal. The narrative was detailed without being boring, and the author did a good job of portraying 19th century America. A section of the slave code was cited at the beginning of each chapter, which gave a better insight into the laws binding slaves. (I wonder if the provisions of the code are real or fictitious.)
The characterization of this book is especially worthy of commendation. Skye brought all sorts of personalities to life and drove her story through the characters. The character development was also very impressive. At the beginning of the book, Lily is but a meek and scared slave, whose condition would rouse the pity of anyone with half a heart, but as the story progresses and she realizes the prodigy she is, she morphs into a confident and lovely lady, commanding the respect and admiration of everyone around her. James evolves from a scornful master, to a remorseful friend, and then to a passionate lover.
At first glance, this book would be categorized as a historical fiction or a romance, but after reading it, one would agree that the level of suspense inherent could qualify it as a suspense novel. It was thrilling to be surprised at every turn as all my predictions gave way for more intriguing twists. At some point, I gave up trying to predict the story, and I was not disappointed by the outcome. I started reading the second book as soon as I got to the climatic ending of book one. The suspense and plot twists were what I liked best about this book; I can't think of anything that I disliked about it.
I strongly recommend this book to lovers of historical fiction and romance. Because of its explicit sexual content, I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone less than eighteen.
The Prodigy Slave, Book One: Journey to Winter Garden
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