Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Sisters of Shiloh - Book Review

Libby Beale is devastated after the death of her beloved husband at the gruesome Civil War battle of Antietam. Seeking to avenge his death, Libby schemes to join the Rebel army dressed as a man and kill Yankees. Libby's older and protective sister Josephine comes along in an attempt to keep Libby safe.

In borrowed britches and with their hair chopped, Libby and Josephine pass for young boys. The Rebel army is desperate for recruits and signs them up. Libby seems to be channeling her deceased husband; she begins to walk and talk like him. She learns to shoot to kill and thrives in the grisly battles. Josephine, however, has more difficulty adopting the habits of a man. Determined not to kill anyone, she doesn't fire her weapon and can't resist another young soldier who sees her only as a good friend.

Sisters of Shiloh is appropriately written by sisters, Kathy and Becky Hepinstall. The prose is rich and captures the imagination. The brutal truths of battle and war are laid bare on the page. They don't shy away from the violence. Perhaps because they are "the fairer sex not made for war" they are actually more aware of the horrific details..

The novel moves at a rapid pace and was engaging. There is some awkward romance between Josephine and the soldier Wesley--picture some Shakespeare Twelfth Night. Theirs is a sweet friendship and I enjoyed this plot line much more than Libby's revenge.

While Sisters of Shiloh is a Civil War novel and it describes the battles, it does not get into the politics of the war much at all. Focusing on the women and their reactions to the war, Sisters of Shiloh paints a picture of how the war effected the regular foot soldier and the people who loved them.

Sisters of Shiloh by Kathy and Becky Hepinstall is published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in March 2015.

**I received a complimentary copy of Sisters of Shiloh. No additional compensation was received. All opinions are my own.**

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