Raid of Souls

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In many ways writing a good historical fiction novel is considerably harder than writing a normal novel. The author has to be extremely comfortable in describing the setting and having characters interact with each other pertaining to the specific historical period. It also has to feel both compelling and historically accurate, keeping the reader interested throughout the book. As with the first book in the series, in the sequel, Raid of Souls, author Kalen Vaughan Johnson does an incredible job of balancing historical detail with great storytelling.

In Robbing the Pillars we are introduced to the California of the mid to late nineteenth century where the gold rush is alive and well, and we meet the fiery Scotsman James MacLaren, who was forced to flee from his native country. But MacLaren knows the world is changing and it’s no longer so much about the independent miners but about the consortiums who are working to control everything and make the most money. In Raid of Souls, he has to face this reality head on and make big decisions that not only affect him but also his wife and daughter, Emma and Charlotte, whom he obviously cares deeply for. Choosing to move away from working on his ranch and focus more on these miners who now work for the large consortiums, he forms and runs one of the first unions for miners, to give them the help they both need and deserve. Of course, in so doing, he also makes some new enemies.

Johnson does a wonderful job of filling the reader in on the world with rich details but never being overbearing or “fact-dumping” that can turn readers off. She skillfully takes readers to various locations from mines and small farms and ranches, to the growing, thriving city of Sacramento. MacLaren talks in a bit of brogue that’s not over the top, but is there enough to separate him from other characters and create an automatic conflict whenever he interacts with locals; it serves to add a level of authenticity to the story that is there throughout the book. We see a complex world with so much going on, as there are those looking to gain and willing to let others suffer, while MacLaren is caught in the crossfire needing to do what he feels is right for the miners he is representing, and also knowing he is paving the way for the future of mining in California, but also never forgetting he is both a husband and a father. The book does what historical fiction should do: immersing you in a world that educates and entertains, and also has some similarities that can easily be equatable to today’s world. It is probably best to start with the first book, just so that you can enjoy the sequel all the more.


Reviewed By:

Author Kalen Vaughan Johnson
Star Count /5
Format Hard
Page Count 306 pages
Publisher Five Star Publishing/Cengage
Publish Date 18-Jul-2021
ISBN 9781432877392
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue July 2021
Category Historical Fiction
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