Revisiting Of Blood and Brothers

August 27, 2014 at 9:51 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , )

blood and brosTitle: Of Blood and Brothers: Book Two

Author: E. Michael Helms

Publisher: KoehlerBooks

Genre: Historical Fiction

Length: 265 pages

“I swallowed the last of my coffee, reached for the pot and poured another cup.”

Cup after coffee cup, I drank and read the second installment of E. Michael Helms Civil War series.

When life is hard, it’s nice to escape into another century’s problems.  I suppose that’s the root of the issue when it comes to historical and science fiction lovers.  We like to flee into other eras when humans are the same, but the world is so different.

My favorite tidbit about Helms series is that he was inspired by two elderly brothers he once knew as a boy, who had a Confederate veteran father.  On his acknowledgements page he tells them, though they are long gone, that “It was your voices that gave rise to the voices of Daniel and Elijah Malburn.” As a fiction writer myself, those tiny details make my heart swoon, because so often we writers are asked where our ideas come from, and so often we are unable to precisely pinpoint it.  Ideas sort of sprout and grow from nothing more than a vibe or a passing fancy, very rarely rooted in much of substance other than things our subconscious has gathered and created from nearly thin air.  That Helms remembers these gentleman who told him stories as a boy is marvelous to my scattered mind.

This is a great piece of fiction to add to a high schooler’s American Civil War studies.  The mind wraps itself around facts and truths of an era so much better when the facts are rooted in a riveting story.  My favorite thing to do when I study any time in history is to read a biography or political piece side by side with a bit of fiction.

Well done, Helms! Looking forward to reading Deadly Catch, one of another series by Helms that I can’t wait to get my teeth into.

 

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Two Brothers, A Reporter, and the Civil War

August 9, 2014 at 12:02 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , )

of-blood-and-brothersTitle: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.

 

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