A Slave of the Shadows by Naomi Finley

The 1800s were a very dark time in history. The countryside was rampant with sadistic slave owners. Women received no recognition or respect. The white man was a self-professed god among inferior humans. However, nature and nurture conspired to make Willow Hendriks into a formidable force. She was headstrong and forward thinking. She feared no man. Her interaction with one infuriating man only worked to strengthen her resolve. 

Set in 1850 in Charleston, North Carolina, this story revolves around Willow’s fight against brutality and cruelty. She grew up without a mum but was close to her father’s servants. She was brought up alongside her minder’s child and was also very close to the blacksmith despite the risk. She made a stance against persecution against a ‘superior’ section of the populace. She would not even let her father’s violent reaction to her stance deter her from chasing freedom and equality for those rendered powerless. 

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Unlike most history-based stories, this one is more focused on the heroine and her struggles rather than on whatever romance she may get embroiled in. The period the story is set in was very male-centric which makes this story all the more unique. It is refreshing without deviating from the traits of that period. It is interesting and captivating. Right from the beginning, the reader understands Willow’s struggle being her father’s only child. One understands just how much of a burden her father’s expectations are. 

The characters in A Slave of the Shadows are individually developed. Each of them has a background story. The reader gets to meet each of them. One gets to understand the nuances and personality of each character. The characters come to life and interact with the reader. This only enhances the experience by making one feel like they are walking around the plantation. Breathing in the fresh country air. They have depth and are relatable. The relationship between James and Willow is especially special. He feels a void that Willow’s father refuses to fill. He is protective and affectionate of Willow in an endearing way. This is despite what could happen if Willow’s father found out. 

The story is told from Willow’s perspective for the most part. The reader gets a unique opportunity to wander through her mind, wading through her thoughts. The reader will experience the torment in Willow’s being at having lost her mother and living with her father’s ideals in excruciating detail. Other facets of the story are told from a third person perspective. This gives the story a sort of three-dimensional feel. One feels like they are part of the story. Involved in Willow’s activities but only observing the rest of the action. 

Naomi Finley has left this story open. There is no conclusive resolution to the story. At the end, one is left with a sense of foreboding. It is a genius way of building anticipation for a sequel. She has done an excellent job of telling a great story with seamless flow and brilliant storyline.

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