by Marvin V. Blake
Page Publishing

"No matter how hard he tried to avoid making comparisons between the girls, his eyes and his mind... seemed to be inextricably drawn to their similarities."

This epic story follows the lives of half-sisters Rebecca Billings and the slave girl Mandy, born within weeks of each other on a Southern plantation fifteen years before the start of the Civil War. As they grow, the two girls are inseparable. Rebecca teaches Mandy how to read and write, skills that are illegal for slaves in their home state of Virginia. As it becomes evident that the South will face defeat, and the Billings fortune will be lost, the girls leave with their father to begin a new life in the West. However, fate intervenes when their westward-bound wagon train is attacked, and a Comanche tribe captures Rebecca and Mandy. Their time with the Comanche proves a very different experience for each girl, thrusting them into roles they would never have imagined.

Blake’s novel delves into the deeply disturbing aspects of slavery in the antebellum American South. There are graphic incidents of whippings, rapes, and cruelty, which are truly disturbing. The close relationship between the two main characters, Rebecca and Mandy, is an intriguing plot twist in the familiar story of slavery. The storyline’s reversal of fortune in the girls’ lives—Mandy’s experience in the Comanche camp affording her the freedom she has never known and Rebecca becoming the slave of a Comanche woman—is an unexpected psychological twist. The novel includes many surprising and, at times, disturbing plot twists that stay with the reader long after the book is finished. Though a lengthy read, it is one worth the time.

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