3 out of 4 stars
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South Carolina Upcountry: Early Years to 1860 is a work of historical fiction authored by Jim Fayssoux. It is an interesting, thrilling, and terrifying read. Those who are tenderhearted will be unable to bear the violence and brutality described in the book.
The story goes back to South Carolina when it was inhabited by Indians. I was amazed reading about the rivalry between the Catawba and Cherokee tribes, which turned into a comradeship after the killing of a dangerous bear. Gradually, the land was occupied by Europeans who destroyed the forests. Indians and settlers raided each other with vengeance. The author has written about the horrifying killing of an adolescent settler, by an Indian, in 1780. I cannot provide more information without spoiling the read, but it is the most painful part of the entire novel. After this, the British had taken charge of South Carolina. Indians were divided in their loyalty to the King and attacked each other. Readers may enjoy the description of Indian rituals of exorcism and healing. These tribes still exist.
My favorite personality in the novel is Jane Bullock, a tomboy of mixed origin, who is an expert at sewing wounds of the injured. Another girl is She Pony, an expert horse rider of mixed origin, who helps with the delivery of a boy named James Bee. This book is the first in a trilogy about the Bee family. It seems to have been thoroughly researched. The themes running through the novel are embellished with vivid and creative descriptions of the scenes. Jim seems to have the knack of entertaining the reader, despite his attention to details. However, the book is full of dialogues in vernacular English that become irritating to read after a few pages.
After reading this book, I wonder what is the author’s purpose. Although he wants to preserve the memory of his ancestors, is he trying to show the gallantry of native Indians or the courage of settlers from Europe? Killings and retaliation are found in both the groups, but I failed to get a clear picture of the message being conveyed. Nevertheless, it is a good blend of historical facts and fiction.
I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. It seems to have been well-edited, and I found a few typos related to the author’s style. I did not give a higher rating due to the reasons mentioned above. I did not give a lower rating because it is an informative and entertaining read. It may appeal to historians, teachers, and people who like to read historical fiction. It is not meant for children because of the theme of violence.
South Carolina Upcountry: Early Years to 1860
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