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The Twisted Crown
Anita Richmond Bunkley. Renard, $12.95 (412p) ISBN 978-0-9624012-4-4
Bunkley’s inspired latest (after Black Gold) imagines a fruitful interracial partnership amid the chaos of racist violence and injustice in reconstruction-era Charleston, S.C. In 1846, four-year-old Eva is sent by her enslaved mother from a South Carolina plantation to live with an aunt in Boston. Just before war breaks out, Eva marries Chester, an escaped slave, who volunteers to join the Union Army as soon as black men are allowed to enlist. Chester is killed, and after the war Eva sets off on a quest to find her mother. Along the way, she meets a Northern white lawyer named Trent Hartwell, who wants to help rebuild the South but is met with resistance from die-hard rebels. Together, Eva and Trent work with the thinly stretched Freedman’s Bureau to advocate for the freedom and justice that were promised after the Union victory, despite a series of threats from powerful, lawless Charleston men and the dangers of being seen together, especially as their friendship deepens. Bunkley’s wrenching descriptions of racist attitudes and violence, along with her meticulous attention to historical and regional details, lay bare the steep uphill battle of her characters’ incremental progress. This is a convincing portrait of the racist and classist divisions that persisted after the Civil War. (Self-published)

Reviewed by Publishers Weekly on 02/07/2020

Release date 08/01/2018