Courage Amid Shadows of the Confederacy

Young Adult - Coming of Age
294 Pages
Reviewed on 05/15/2021
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Author Biography

Ken DeHaven was born in the Missouri Ozarks and lived in that unique culture many years. He attended graduate school school on a National Defense and Education Act Fellowship. He is now a retired university professor and writer. Academic life coupled with Ozarkian experience provides a unique pool of knowledge reflected in his writing

Ken and his wife live on a small farm in South Carolina.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Romuald Dzemo for Readers' Favorite

Emily: Courage Amid Shadows of the Confederacy by Ken DeHaven follows sixteen-year-old Emily Harmon who moves with her family to Missouri from Illinois. It is in the period following the Civil War and the effects of the war are still deeply felt, notably with the “remnant of war,” a group of criminals who sow terror everywhere they go, and they have transformed the small town of Gainesville into a dreadful place. When Emily and her friend discover Wylds, a cultish leader with a mission to overturn the Union victory, Emily leads a team of young people and law enforcement officers to capture Wylds. Many bushwhackers who follow him are captured and jailed. But what becomes of Emily, a young and ambitious woman in a world where women have little space to talk?

This is a beautifully written story with great characters. Emily is someone to root for, a woman with courage and a spirit of daring adventure. Characters like Bloodsucker are interesting as well, and there are many great and dramatic scenes involving him. The author explores the nineteenth century world with ingenuity and writes intelligently about the violence following the war and unscrupulous characters like Wylds, who uses the Bible to mislead others, even making his followers believe they have to pay ten percent of their earnings to him. The general manner in which young women were treated at the time is skillfully captured in the story. Ken DeHaven writes in excellent prose and fills the story with drama; the dialogues are well-written and they provide a deeper layer of entertainment, propelling the plot forward while unveiling character traits. Emily: Courage Amid Shadows of the Confederacy is a well-plotted and rollicking adventure; the writing is atmospheric and the characters memorable. The dangerous post-Civil War world comes alive in this novel.

Hayley Haun

Get ready to jump back in time with a brave young heroine in Emily: Courage Amid Shadows of the Confederacy. Author Ken DeHaven introduces readers to this real woman in history. Emily, a sixteen-year-old girl, undertakes a family wagon journey to the Ozarks in Missouri where her grandparents reside. But during the journey trouble abounds everywhere. The bushwhackers are a band of outlaws who loot, burn, and kill anything in their path. They swore to take no sides in the Civil War, but normalcy is hard to come by now the war is over. In some way or another, each person is affected by what occurred. The bushwhackers are yet another disturbance in the peace, and Emily vows to help get rid of them by whatever means necessary. With the help of her grandpa and Eli, a deaf boy who has a knack for tracking, the bushwhackers are not getting away with things.

In Emily: Courage Amid Shadows of the Confederacy, history is alive. Stories of the bushwhackers are not known where I am from, and so, this story was a learning experience for me. A lot of unknown history exists and much of it deserves to be remembered. Ken DeHaven’s tale of courage and faith extends well beyond the pages of the book. Emily’s story encouraged me to learn more about my family history. As befitting the young adult genre, DeHaven manages to create an easy-to-understand story with a wide variety of well-rounded characters. Their wants and goals are transparent, and they move the plot forward substantially.

Grace Masso

Emily: Courage Amid Shadows of the Confederacy by Ken DeHaven is an action-packed novel with strong characters and a setting against the backdrop of the years following the Civil War. While traveling from Illinois to Missouri with her family, sixteen-year-old Emily learns the disturbing truth about the “remnants of war,” the criminal gangs composed of bushwhackers that terrorize citizens and have almost laid to waste the town of Gainesville. She eventually discovers a cultist leader called Wylds, whose followers employ methods similar to the modus operandi of the bushwhackers in their bid to overturn the victory of the Union. In a daring act, she organizes a group of friends and law enforcement officers to bring down this criminal and destroy his nest. But what challenges are ahead of her?

A well-crafted historical novel with a compelling young female protagonist, Emily: Courage Amid Shadows of the Confederacy has the potential to entice both fans of historical narratives and fiction with sophisticated characters. Emily is an icon that young readers would love to follow, a girl who is ambitious in a world in which women’s voices are silenced, and her struggles are even made more complicated by a mother who believes that women should be docile and simply followers. The setting in post-war Missouri is well-written and readers will appreciate the meticulous care with which Ken DeHaven crafts the elements that pose danger to society. This tale mixes adventure and courage with strong themes of family, friendship, and justice to offer an enjoyable reading experience to readers. I enjoyed the balance in the writing, the superb prose, and the exceptional characters.