A Tangled Mercy: A Novel

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Both tragic and hopeful, Joy Jordan-Lake’s A Tangled Mercy is a timely read about love, loss, and forgiveness. After her mother’s death, Kate Drayton suddenly abandons her Harvard lecture and travels to Charleston for answers regarding her parents’ splintered relationship. Uncertain as to why her mother was consumed with researching Charleston’s 1822 slave rebellion and why her late father removed himself from the family when Kate was a child, Kate seeks to speak with a handful of Charleston locals who she believes can lead her to the truth. In an alternate perspective from nearly two hundred years earlier, blacksmith Tom Russell is torn between supplying weapons for the secret slave rebellion or eluding probable death and protecting the woman he loves.

The present-day narrative has a few faults, most notably Kate herself, a sub-par researcher whose discoveries are simply too coincidental to be believable; her plight is hardly distressing, making it difficult to sympathize with this character. However, the way Jordan-Lake presents the recent Charleston shooting and the immediate response of the community is beautifully done. The highlight of this novel is Jordan-Lake’s portrayal of the slave revolt; the stakes are high, the deep-set racism is all too real, and the main characters are complex and well rendered. Jordan-Lake’s painstaking research of this overlooked historical event is evident. A Tangled Mercy exposes racism in America, past and present, while also highlighting the resilience of a small-town community.

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Star Count 3/5
Format Hard
Page Count 433 pages
Publisher Lake Union Publishing
Publish Date 2017-Nov-01
ISBN 9781503946736
Bookshop.org Buy this Book
Issue May 2018
Category Historical Fiction


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