I have to say that I think this is probably the darkest LDS historical novel that I’ve read. One of the main viewpoint characters has the most depressing and dysfunctional family I’ve ever read about and culminates in the viewpoint character strangling his wife to death “on screen.” If this wasn’t enough another character by the name of John Morgan is also a piece of despicable abusive swine. There are multiple acts of violence upon members of the church as persecution against Mormons escalates in the area. So many things went wrong right after another that I was beginning to wonder how much historical accuracy the story had because the story was starting to feel contrived on the part of the author to create more tension. There was no historical note by the author at the end to separate the truth from fiction, which annoyed me. I kind of wanted to know what facts she based the story from and how much creative license she had taken.
The story does contain some wonderful glimmers of the power of the gospel. The repentance process of Meredith, a prostitute who helped John Morgan persecute Mormon families. I admired moral courage of Richard Kenyon, who followed his conscience even if it threatened his livelihood. His tender relationship with his wife is no doubt meant to counterbalance the dysfunction of his elder brother’s family. There are miracles wrought by the priesthood, but overall I felt the book was sort of depressing. The novel provides a riveting read that rushes from conflict to conflict, and does have some great storytelling. Perhaps, the book wasn’t exactly to my taste but the book does deal realistically with heavy issues and allows the characters to really struggle with those issues instead of having them all made better instantly when they learn about the gospel. I think some readers will find that sort of honesty refreshing.
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