At its heart, this haunting tale focuses on Duncan’s acceptance of his newly changed body. Although it does not describe the Civil War battle Thomas survived, the aftermath remains strong in the novel’s backdrop. Thomas is stranded, both literally and existentially, and readers will sympathize with his struggle to break free of substance abuse while habituating himself to life without a leg. Most redeeming is his mission to find Cynthia and undo the pain he caused her in ending their engagement. Hope for her renewed love pulls him through his darkest moments. Koelsch never wastes a line, and the prose is so evocative and the milieu so vivid that readers may wish that this affair were longer, with further exploration of Cynthia’s physical and emotional journey.
“I know neither my place nor time. Many have been my experiences with thin, smoky mists… When am I? Where am I?” The depiction of a gothic, foggy New England community ratchets up suspense without bringing angst as the hero perseveres in his goal. The use of old-fashioned language matches the era without posing difficulty to readers’ comprehension. First-person point of view plunges the reader into Duncan’s anguished situation, heightening anticipation. Thick with mystery, this cozy suspense offers historical fiction fans a treat to savor.
Takeaway: Vivid, suspenseful speculative novella of the Civil War.
Comparable Titles: Anita Frank’s The Lost Ones, Stacey Halls’s Mrs England.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A