Dark Knowledge

Fiction - Historical - Event/Era
234 Pages
Reviewed on 07/02/2018
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Author Biography

Dark Knowledge is the third title in my Metropolis series of historical novels set in nineteenth-century New York. New York City history fascinates me, and I was surprised to learn that on the eve of the Civil War New York was the center of the transatlantic slave trade that took slaves from Africa to Cuba. I was even more surprised to learn that seemingly respectable people, including women, were involved in the trade, and used clever stratagems to avoid exposure. I researched the subject, using primary sources whenever possible, and created the fictional story of a young man who learns that some of his family may have been in the trade. Appalled, he sets out to learn the truth and meets lies, evasions, and threats.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Gisela Dixon for Readers' Favorite

Dark Knowledge by Clifford Browder is a historical fiction novel set in New York around the American Civil War era. Dark Knowledge is the story of Chris Harmony and his search for his family’s roots and secrets. Chris is a young man who has always been proud of and inspired by his family that has been in the shipping industry for the last three generations. After Chris’s father passes away, he comes across a chest with old shipping papers that motivate him to research and write about his family’s history, which he had been told was one of glory on the sea. However, as soon as his uncle hears of the plan, he tries to steal the chest. Chris manages to hold on to the chest and with the help of his sister, Sal, starts uncovering a wealth of lies and the ugly reality that his family, for generations, has in fact been involved in the slave trade and human trafficking of African-Americans. This is the story of Chris and his quest for the truth, with many surprises and twists and turns along the way.

I enjoyed reading Dark Knowledge and Clifford Browder definitely managed to recreate the vibe and feel of that era so that I could almost smell the salty sea air and feel myself transported to that period. The characters are very well drawn, and in addition to Chris and Sal, who are fantastic, all of the other family members, former ship captains, etc. also have their own flavor and personalities. Sal is shown to be a smart and capable woman which I appreciated. But most of all, this is Chris’s story and Clifford Browder succeeds in highlighting the horrors of slavery through this book. This is great read!

Diksha Sundriyal

Dark Knowledge by Clifford Browder tells the story of the Harmony family. The Harmony family members have been famous for their adventurous spirit and have a strong reputation as seafarers. However, Chris and his father didn’t inherit the endless drive for adventure, like the rest of their family. Chris had always been more interested in listening to the stories his grandfather had accumulated over the course of his voyages. Now, Chris wants to write a book on the history of the Harmony family with the help of the letters and other stuff left behind by his grandfather in a chest. While his uncle had initially shown disinterest in it, he now seems adamant to take these from Chris, by force or trickery. Trying to keep the contents of the chest hidden from his uncle, Chris starts reading his grandfather’s letters and discovers a dark truth about his family.

Dark Knowledge is pretty much what its name suggests. Through the story of the Harmony family, Clifford Browder has created an interesting tale with a harsh truth at its heart. What happens when you realize that all you were told about your family is a lie. The story is filled with a wide of range of characters that further add to the drama. The writing style is fluid and you’ll glide through the book, turning one page after another. The intriguing plot is balanced by the witty lines and the good sense of humour of certain characters. It doesn’t shy away from addressing the social issues that have deep roots in our history. The appeal of this book has the potential to attract a wide variety of readers. All things considered, Clifford Browder’s Dark Knowledge is an entertaining read.