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The Binding of Saint Barbara

Experience one of the most controversial decisions of the nineteenth century – the world’s first death by electrocution – through the eyes of those who witnessed it and the man who endured it.

Charlotte Durston is a prisoner—but she’s not a criminal, just the warden’s daughter. Under the thumb of overprotective parents, she hasn’t stepped outside the walls of the castle-like fortress that is Auburn Prison since she was a child. However, at seventeen, Charlotte is desperate for a life outside the walls. To prove herself, she sets about ministering to the newest inmate, the first man condemned to the electric chair, a good deed she will come to regret.

The State of New York has determined that ax-murderer William Kemmler will be the first man executed via electricity. Fighting an addiction to alcohol, a looming death sentence and his own personal demons, William lashes out at the warden’s daughter. The attack unwittingly sets off a chain of events that will not only determine William’s fate at his appeal hearing, but will also lead Charlotte down a dark path into her own forgotten past.

Charlotte begs her parents for another chance to prove herself by working with a different inmate, but the next prisoner she meets not only has information that could save William Kemmler, but who also knows a secret about Charlotte from over ten years ago. As Charlotte recalls more and more, she realizes that this man knows why she cannot break free from her personal prison, and he's the only one who holds the key to her escape.

Quarter Finalist

Plot/Idea: 10 out of 10
Originality: 9 out of 10
Prose: 8 out of 10
Character/Execution: 10 out of 10
Overall: 9.25 out of 10


Plot: This powerful story, based on an actual events, is engaging and will stick with readers. Well plotted, the novel will grab readers and offers a plot twist they won't see coming.

Prose: Well crafted prose mixed with news articles brings the characters and their story to life.

Originality: While the story is built around actual events, the mix of truth and fiction is well done and balanced.

Character Development: The characters here are skillfully developed. They are manipulative, God fearing, religious, caring, young and eager, ambitious, reasonable, cunning, egotistical—like people who walk among us.

Blurb: A well-researched piece of historical fiction for all readers not just history buffs.

Date Submitted: June 07, 2017