Ruby Dorn


Fiction - Historical - Event/Era
279 Pages
Reviewed on 02/09/2018
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Thomas A. Peters for Readers' Favorite

From the outset, Ruby Dorn has only the problems any other fifteen-year-old girl living in a small Minnesota town in the year 1875 might face: her mother recently died in childbirth, her father has been arrested for burning the crops on their farm that had just been repossessed by the bank, and her older sister, Morain, is in hiding for assaulting the man who turned their father in. Events quickly take a turn for the worse when an accident involving a boy trying to force himself on Ruby results in his death. Knowing her younger sister is naïve enough to get herself arrested and likely hanged by the corrupt local judge, Morain comes to Ruby’s rescue and leads her away from their hometown into the wilds of the untamed West.

Immediately after arriving in a remote mining settlement known as Foregone, the sisters nearly fall prey to a purported local lawman, and after having violently escaped his attempt at rape, Ruby finds herself sentenced to death, only to be narrowly rescued by her ferocious, ever-inventive sister. After defeating a neophyte bounty hunter who had thought Ruby would be an easy catch, the sisters plan to take a coach and then ride a train east to Chicago. During the journey, Ruby discovers that she has become a topic of national debate regarding society’s treatment of women following the publication of an article covering her arrest in Foregone featuring a fabricated interview between herself and the article’s writer. As women, now known as “Dornists”, take revenge on their attackers around the country, a new bounty of five thousand dollars is declared for Ruby’s apprehension, and the sisters find themselves confronted at every turn by men who will stop at nothing to either capture or control them. Eventually making their way to Boston, Ruby feels certain they have reached civilization, again only to discover that they are still far from escaping the depravity of humanity.

Paul Wychor’s debut novel, Ruby Dorn, is a fantastically fast-paced historical melodrama that forever keeps the reader wondering as to what new tribulation could possibly befall the protagonists, as the author deftly takes his audience on a wild ride of ever-escalating encounters and escapes. The trash-talking, brutal Morain, so adept at “ferreting out others’ weaknesses” and viciously exploiting them, might not be the sort of person we would enjoy to know in real life, but thanks to Ruby’s perfect and often exasperated narration she is absolutely delectable as a character. The constant conflict between the two sisters, both so different in desires, dress, speech and temperament, is executed beautifully. The first person point-of-view featuring regular internal monologues is integral to the overall charm of the story as Ruby relates her experiences with her overtly intense sibling, honestly stating: “As much as I loathe being forced to live in her world I cannot help but be awed by her brilliance.” Though Morain necessarily takes center stage during most of the action sequences, Ruby is not always relegated to the literary backwaters. Instead, as circumstances dictate, Ruby reluctantly sits in the driver’s seat herself, and as a character she continues to grow throughout the book as she slowly begins to accept her rightful place in a mad world where, time and again, violence seems the only solution to the evils perpetrated by men.

Jane Finch

Ruby Dorn by Paul Wychor tells the story of young Ruby Dorn and her sister, Morain. The two sisters are completely different in character, Morain being rough and ready and tough and confrontational, and Ruby meek and mild, a lover of books, and perhaps the finer things in life, if she ever had a chance to enjoy them. Told in the first person, Ruby finds herself fleeing with her sister across the plains of Dakota where they encounter a wild bunch of men in a wilder town. Morain, as always, has a plan and rescues Ruby after Ruby is accused of murder and sentenced to death, despite the fact that the victim had tried to rape her. A slaughter ensues which results in the two sisters being the subject of a price on their heads. Their lives consist of running and surviving. But elsewhere, the girls have become famous, and little Ruby finds herself the subject of admiration and inspiration by one group of women, yet despised and hunted by infuriated men.

This is an action-packed story that proceeds at a great pace. The writing is perfect for the era of the 1870s and gives the story added credibility. The author, Paul Wychor, has crafted an excellent story and developed realistic characters that give the whole work a feeling of authenticity. The ‘voice’ throughout is perfect. A really enjoyable, breathtaking story that is impossible to put down and leaves the reader gasping at the end and wanting more. Fortunately, there is a sequel.

Kayti Nika Raet

Ruby Dorn by Paul Wychor is the first  book in a historical action adventure series set in 1875. After her father is wrongfully sent to prison, 15-year-old Ruby must flee with her older sister, Morain, into the Dakota Territory wilderness. But when they reach so called safety in a Black Hills mining town, they discover that their new neighbors are less than ideal. After Ruby defends herself against a violent assault, she is saved from a hanging by her sister and they are forced to flee again. But now they've gotten a taste of justice outside of the law and vow to protect every woman they can from violence. Traveling by horse and train, the teenage sisters are unable to trust anyone, even their closest allies, as catastrophe strikes against them at every turn. They're hardly able to rest as mobs follow them, hell bent on vengeance.

Giving the reader a sense of late 1800s life, Ruby Dorn highlights the plight of women during this time period. While the characters, both good and villainous, sometimes feel a bit cartoonish, Ruby Dorn by Paul Wychor manages to tell a suspenseful and action filled story as Ruby and her sister right the wrongs perpetrated in the Old West. With a gripping narrative, Ruby Dorn starts in the midst of action and ends similarly as well, leaving readers with an abrupt cliffhanger that will have them clamoring for book two. A fast paced read sure to grip any fan of historical action and intrigue.

Christian Sia

Ruby Dorn by Paul Wychor is a gritty historical adventure set in 1875 in the wilds of Dakota. The reader is introduced to two teenage sisters, Ruby Dorn and her elder sister, Morain. The reader follows these two sisters as they undertake a perilous journey that brings them to a mining town, Black Hill, but where they expected to find solace is the very place that things take a turn for the worse. Ruby is sentenced to hanging for daring to defend herself and only gets saved by her sister. Now hunted, the two sisters must rely on their wits and cunning to stay alive. Follow their clandestine journey to Boston as they seek out Winnifred Schoonover, an influential woman who may have answers. Or will she?

Paul Wychor weaves a tale with characters that are very believable and that readers can relate to. The author introduces a powerful element in the development of the conflict — the harshness of the terrain, an element that the key characters have to deal with. I enjoyed the setting in a time when people travelled on horseback, when communication wasn’t easy, and when women were still treated like second-class citizens. The author makes great use of these elements to create the empathy that punctuates this narrative. The writing is great and highly descriptive, filled with images that will delight readers. The narrative is characterized by an unusual emotional intensity and readers will quickly relate to the characters. Ruby Dorn is a page-turning journey that will plunge the reader into an exciting adventure.