Heart-wrenching. Shocking. Profound.
Retired Webster University Professor Paul Steinmann’s debut novel is gripping and powerfully written. Will is the fictional tale of three slaves and their perilous escape to freedom. At times shocking and always thrilling, Will is a read-all-night kind of book that will change you.
“Twenty years after the Turner rebellion, Pritchard gained control of a lucrative Mississippi plantation known as Mary Dale,” Steinmann commences. “A slave on the plantation, Will Douglas, knew the Colonel obtained the property illegally. He found proof. The only way he could avoid the Colonel’s wrath and certain death…was to run.”
When Old Master Douglas died, he sold his plantation and freed his slaves, giving a trusted female slave his will and money to hide. Will and Tom are slaves who gain possession of the box’s priceless contents—proof of their freedom—years later and escape Mary Dale Plantation through the Underground Railroad. Will desperately seeks freedom and the redemption rightly granted him in the document. He also seeks to be reunited with his childhood friend and love interest, Teeny, whom Colonel Pritchard gifted to his friend in St. Louis. Their journey is wrought with danger and is terribly unlikely to succeed from the beginning.
What originates as a story about three slaves and their desire to be together quickly blossoms into three unique tales. Each faces different and impossible scenarios, yet each finds bravery and perseverance within and escapes their pursuers. These stories are unexpected and harrowing, yet rooted in historical fact. It’s a reminder that even if life doesn’t work out the way you planned, you shouldn’t resign yourself and become a victim.
This thrilling tale is an epic battle between abolitionists who give their all to advance the cause of freedom and slaveowners and sympathizers who will go to all lengths to retrieve their valuable property and leave a deadly message for others who may try to escape. There are ruthless slave hunters and detectives, unexpected love stories, disguises, and unlikely friendships. Will is a poignant look at racism and the reality facing black men and women in the US before the Civil War. It will shock you. It will anger you. It will cause you to cheer triumphantly for the heroes as they risk it all to enjoy the sweet possibility of freedom.
Will is a must-read for historical fiction fans and a stellar first novel for Steinmann. Well-written, believable, and utterly engaging, this novel will leave you begging for more.
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