4 out of 4 stars
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Hyde’s Corner: No Man’s Land is the first book of Hyde’s Corner Trilogy by J B Bergstad.
Written in the third person perspective, the story begins in October of 1947 at the surgery of Dr. Herman Beaman, where the old man’s sleep is disturbed by an unofficial delivery of a duffle bag that used to belong to Selmer Burks. The story then flashes back to Tennessee in 1877 when the blacksmith/gunsmith Silas Burks and his wife Mathilda and their children make the journey to Oklahoma to settle as cattle ranchers. They work hard on their ranch, which they name Little B, and become friends with the other cattle ranchers. Shortly after, they meet new arrivals from England, Cedric and his son Jared Hyde, whom the ranchers find ill-mannered and arrogant. The Hydes put up a general merchandise store which is welcomed by the residents as they usually make a long journey to Dodge City for supplies. An unfortunate incident wrecks the business relationship between the Burkses and the Hydes. This almost leads to the annihilation of both families.
The book features hatred and vengeance as well as love and friendship. The author successfully depicts the importance of family. Selmer Burks’s hunger for Hyde blood in order to avenge the death of his loved ones and Cedric Hyde’s covering up for his son’s criminal behavior, though extreme, are great examples of how far one can go for the people he loves. The author masterfully presents the difference in upbringing between the Burks and the Hyde children, where Silas teachers his children the importance of hard work and good manners, the Hydes are raised to believe they are superior over the farmers and cattlemen. The Burkses make friends while the Hydes pay servants. Moreover, the story shows the dark nature of men when money and power are more important than morals, honor and even people’s lives.
This book affects me more than others. It is written in a very profound way that I can almost feel the pain and suffering of the characters. Some scenes are so intense that I have to stop reading. Others, though they do not bring tears to my eyes, leave a giant lump in my throat and a big hole in my chest.
The author adeptly creates a cast of memorable characters: the honorable Silas Burks whose temper cost him dearly, the smart sheriff Selmer Burks who is haunted by the painful deaths of his family members, the proud Cedric Hyde whose ultimate goal is to re-establish an economic and aristocratic empire and the immoral Jared Hyde who has neither heart nor soul.
My only problem is the incorrect use of several words, mostly possessive pronouns, within the entire book. Other readers may find them annoying.
In view of the above, I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. I recommend it to readers who appreciate historical fiction, western living and cowboy stories. However, this book contains scenes including beatings, killings, slaughter and even rape, which are not suitable for young readers.
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