4 out of 4 stars
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The Prodigy Slave, Book One: Journey to Winter Garden by London Skye, is a story that sweeps across the landscape of the pre-Civil War United States. It has heart pumping, heart slumping, twists and turns that will have the reader euphoric one minute and despondent the next. This is such a well-written book that it will easily keep one transfixed from beginning to end.
I loved reading this story because the author takes her time weaving the tale in a very descriptive style. The author develops all the central characters, and we come to know and anticipate their thoughts. The result is that we sit in our seats and let the story envelop us. It is a "patient" reading. However, patience is rewarded because the reader will bond with several characters by the end of the book. What I did not like (I confess I had to think hard for something I did not like) is the ending. After sharing this struggle for freedom with Lily, more preparation would help us accept the abrupt end. Since this is book one in a trilogy, I now have the difficult task of waiting to read book two. Nevertheless, I anticipate continuing the trilogy.
The book begins with Lily, a slave, recalling the day she was physically, mentally, and emotionally torn from her Mother. She was approximately six years old at the time. It is a story of her struggle to deal with racism, violence, and all the degrading mistreatments associated with slavery. However, there is a difference in her story. Lily has been gifted, by God, with "perfect pitch"; a way to play piano in a remarkable way. Her skill is unbelievable, considering she cannot read or write and plays entirely by memory.
As she grows, she forms an incredible bond with the plantation owner's youngest son, James. Theirs is a bond that is unique to the times in which they live and is also illegal. From around seven years old, they share everything, all in hiding because of the dreadful consequences. When caught, James' Father, Jesse, forbids his son's continuing in the relationship. He sends James away to school, and Lily is devastated. Their relationship completely changes as James takes on his Father's personality and begins to treat Lily as if she is nothing to him. However, part of the reason why he does this is that Lily is everything to him, but he can no longer express it.
When James returns home after college, he comes upon Lily playing the piano. James is amazed, as Lily always kept her playing a secret and he never saw her play before. He confronts her in an accusatory way threatening punishment. She must never play the piano again. The piano was her only remaining outlet to help manage her life's pain and grief in slavery, and now that is gone. Is this the same James she grew up knowing and loving? No, it is not. While away at school, James has realized that he profoundly loves Lily, and he forms a plan to rescue Lily from her plight and reveal his true feelings to her, all while revealing her extraordinary gift of music.
What follows is a tale of forbidden love with violent emotions out of control. The reader takes a ride on an emotional rollercoaster as Lily tries to understand how the James she knew growing up has seemingly returned. Or has he? Powerful and riveting, the book's ending provides the backdrop as Lily must face the culmination of her hopes and dreams.
I rate The Prodigy Slave an enthusiastic 4 out of 4 stars because it is a fantastic story written in a beautiful style. It is a story that expresses some harsh realities. However, the style in which written helps to deliver those realities in a more palatable manner.
The novel does have several erotic sections, but considering the storyline, it would be tough to be authentic without these realistic elements. They accurately reflect the time in which the story unfolds and the passion shared by lovers who must hide their desire for each other. In these sections, the author uses the same detail and descriptive skill found throughout the story. Readers who are sensitive to erotic writing may not like this. Nevertheless, it is so well-written that it is easy to overlook. The book is professionally edited, and I found no grammatical errors. Some vulgar language of varying degrees occurs throughout the book, but this represents the norm of verbal degradation of slaves and its regular occurrence. Hence, the language is to be expected. It is all part of the story. I recommend this book for fans of historical fiction that delivers the intense romance and vital issues still relevant today.
The Prodigy Slave, Book One: Journey to Winter Garden
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