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Promises by Ardyce Durham

As many fans of history know there are several ways to keep history alive and to record the events of the past. Author Ardyce Durham uses just one of those ways by researching the life of her paternal grandfather to find out the man had lived a very interesting life. She used these historical findings to put them into a very well told story that, although fiction,  gives us glimpses to a period many have forgotten.

Promises takes the reader back into the 1800’s prior to the Civil War and up thru and beyond.  The book opens with the reader getting an introduction to both the Walker and Cartwright families. The main characters are going to be a set of boys who were born just days apart. Their names are Owen Cartwright and Wes Walker.

The story will follow the lives of these two young men as they grow up into adult hood, and go off to war. The story will be filled with things from moments of comedy, to that of sorrow. One of the comedic pieces that stuck out to me is when the young men try chewing tobacco for the first time. I could almost imagine what they went thru as who has not tried something they shouldn’t as a child only to have it backfire and cause sickness.

There is also heartache and tragedy within the pages as often happened in the mid 1800’s whole families could be uprooted from their homes as they must move to where the work is to survive. This happens to both families when the local sawmill where both men work, shuts down. The families are forced to travel and find jobs and we find a lot of the original grit of the human spirit on how they react to these changes. We have to remember there are no paved roads, no cars and worse of all no CELL phones at this time. A trip that today, could be a few hours to a day trip by car on an express way took days, maybe weeks or months during this period.

The story will follow the boys as their families must move to a new town, a new way of living and how they adapt. We will read how they take up fighting in what can only be called an early fight club. The reader will have to take time to see how they do as I want to avoid a lot of spoilers. There again though we get a glimpse at the bond between the boys and also their families.  The bond forged thru their youth will take them into the Civil War and be part of what comes after that conflict.

Readers will get a sense of the bond the boys build throughout the book as they read the stories before and after the Civil War. I am sure there will be some who may suffer with the language used in the book. It’s in no way something you need to have fear about, it’s just that a lot of the language is period based. It fits the story and is something I enjoyed as it took me even more into the story.

There are some great characters developed within the pages of Promises by Author Ardyce Durham. She does a very good job at not just building the story between the boys but the scenery of the era the book takes place within. The backdrop of a strong bond between families, to that of the conflict that put families against families was brought to life with the writing. There are some moments of sorrow, love and anger within the pages but the book is a great telling of a story that is based on the life of the author’s grandfather.

 

 
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Posted by on May 2, 2017 in Reviews

 

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Hilger by Author Philip Seal

Small towHilgern America can be considered a bit of a myth in today’s technology age. The speed of information, ability to purchase items from far away, and talk to someone in another country almost makes it unnecessary to talk to a neighbor. A great way to get an idea is ask yourself how well you know your neighbors. If you like most of us you have little interaction with them as no need when all available at your fingertips.

Author Philip Seal will give the reader a great glimpse into that missing small town America in his book Hilger. A book that will take the reader into the far corners of the small town which has one bar, a gas station and an eclectic group of people who call the town home. However, they will find out that something has come to their town in the late 1970’s that will rock this town to its core. The book brought to readers through Black Rose Writing.

 
Hilger opens with a man telling of a visit to a bar where he is given a fortune reading by a woman claiming to be a witch. The witch will tell him, through tarot cards that his days of wondering will come to an end in a small town. This man is left wondering what the woman meant by her last statement, “You will hunt. But do not ever feel sorry for it, for that will be your undoing.” In a way this could be foreshadowing what to come in the book which in itself has a mystery to be unraveled as well as the cryptic message.

 
The reader is introduced to Daryl, whose father had killed himself at the age of thirty nine and it was many years later this poor young man lost his mother to an auto accident. Thus this young man did the only thing he could think of and joined the military and was one of the thousands of young men to fight in Vietnam. His return home was filled with the question of what to do and this path of finding work would eventually lead him to Judith County and the town of Hilger.

 
Hilger, a small town which has the local bar as its main place or entertainment and owned by Bob and his cheating wife Sally. A gas station that is run by John Liberty and then lastly there was the grain elevator that had at its busiest time three employees, the owner, Russ and Sandy. In like all small towns there was a woman who loved to gossip. The town had its eclectic mix of people from a woman who sat on her porch with a shotgun, an old man who horded his money, and a few cattle ranchers. It was a small town with a small population where everyone new something about the neighbor. At least that’s what it seems from the outside.

 
It is only when a stranger comes into town, one Peter Olin, that things begin to change for the small town and the county. This mysterious man had driven from the west coast to arrive in this small Montana town. He was searching for something but would not really interact much with the locals and eventually his car is found on the side of the road. Peter had gone for a walk into a field only to disappear and not be seen by anyone other than a few locals.

 
The second disappearance, a man nicknamed Eds, will leave the bar in the hopes of a late night hookup with a cute young woman and never make that rendezvous. Thus he becomes the second person to disappear in this small town. The interesting thing with Eds’ tale is that things had been conspiring that evening that the man would disappear anyhow. The fact is that how he disappears is much worse than the fate that was being planned for him. The big problem that is plaguing this small town is that those hunting in the mountains nearby are not the only ones hunting.

 
Hilger is a book set back in the late 1970’s and what makes it a great read is the character development. You begin to understand the motivations of the people of the town and their lives. There are characters you can sympathize with and others you may find yourself hoping will be next to “disappear.” The addition of a running thread of mystery helps give the book just enough of an element of suspense it keeps you turning the pages. There is even some brief mention of General Patton in the book when we are introduced to Daryl as a child. This history buff loved the reference to the man. Along with this reference there are points in the book where we learn of how a grandparent can be just as influential on a child as his own parents. The reader discovers this as we read about a young man in school and the impact of his grandfather.

 
Author Philip Seal creates not just a great small town but the characters that live within this town. The fact that a mysterious event draws additional concerns for this small community makes many of their problems seem small. However, when you live in a small town no problem is ever small. This is a great read one that fans of sci-fi, mystery, suspense and even light horror will enjoy.

 
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Posted by on November 12, 2014 in Reviews

 

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