Title:Of Blood and Brothers
Author: E. Michael Helms
Publisher: Koehler Books
Genre: Historical Fiction
Length: 269 pages
“It was war, I said, and war makes people do bad things.”
Historical fiction that involves research and spans time within a story is always my favorite. Diane Setterfield’s The Thirteenth Tale, any of Kate Morton’s novels, A.S. Byatt’s Possession… these are among my must own forever books.
So, of course, I was pleased to discover E. Michael Helms’ Of Blood and Brothers series, which follows reporter Calvin Hogue (from 1927) as he researches the story of the Malburn Brothers (who fought in the Civil War).
As a child from the South, I adored Civil War tales. I didn’t care whether they were written from our perspective or the Yanks, I just couldn’t get enough of it. Gentle Annie and Red Badge of Courage were both beloved titles during my elementary school years. I played Colonel Shaw in the school play of Glory. Part of my obsession with Little Women was the mid-to-post war setting.
E. Michael Helms took me back in time to Elijah Malburn, and I got to experience being stolen from by the Confederates, being interrogated by the Union soldiers, and working at the saltworks. I traveled with Jefferson, the Malburn’s slave and found it oddly appropriate that the rift that doomed the brothers wasn’t just a political one, but one that included a girl.
I could easily turn this review into a political debate – there’s plenty to talk about, especially with me being from the south and having all sorts of views on the Confederacy. But that wouldn’t do Helms’ work justice.
Of Blood and Brothers is about people and homes being torn apart by circumstances outside of their control. It’s about being a soldier and not always being one because it’s what you believe in, but because it’s what saves your backside. It’s about protecting your loved ones and lamenting their departure from this world…
It’s a darn good book and I’m looking forward to the sequel.