Scorched Earth

This Hallowed Ground Book 2

Christian - Historical Fiction
474 Pages
Reviewed on 05/17/2024
Buy on Amazon

This author participates in the Readers' Favorite Free Book Program, which is open to all readers and is completely free. The author will provide you with a free copy of their book in exchange for an honest review. You and the author will discuss what sites you will post your review to and what kind of copy of the book you would like to receive (eBook, PDF, Word, paperback, etc.). To begin, click the purple email icon to send this author a private email.

This author participates in the Readers' Favorite Book Review Exchange Program, which is open to all authors and is completely free. Simply put, you agree to provide an honest review an author's book in exchange for the author doing the same for you. What sites your reviews are posted on (B&N, Amazon, etc.) and whether you send digital (eBook, PDF, Word, etc.) or hard copies of your books to each other for review is up to you. To begin, click the purple email icon to send this author a private email, and be sure to describe your book or include a link to your Readers' Favorite review page or Amazon page.

This author participates in the Readers' Favorite Book Donation Program, which was created to help nonprofit and charitable organizations (schools, libraries, convalescent homes, soldier donation programs, etc.) by providing them with free books and to help authors garner more exposure for their work. This author is willing to donate free copies of their book in exchange for reviews (if circumstances allow) and the knowledge that their book is being read and enjoyed. To begin, click the purple email icon to send this author a private email. Be sure to tell the author who you are, what organization you are with, how many books you need, how they will be used, and the number of reviews, if any, you would be able to provide.

    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

Scorched Earth: This Hallowed Ground Book 2 is a work of fiction in the Christian, historical, and Western genres. Penned by author Donna E. Lane, this gripping tale is set in 1883, blending the essence of the American West with themes reminiscent of the biblical story of Job. Mac and Ester, settled on their Georgia land, face unexpected peril when shadows from Mac's past resurface, leading to a harrowing revelation of his identity as a wanted Civil War criminal and Union army deserter. Forced to flee, they embark on a treacherous journey to escape authorities, with Mac's decision to return to the West unveiling a saga of survival against unforgiving landscapes and relentless pursuit.

Author Donna E. Lane utilizes both history and faith to craft a riveting read that immersed me in the rugged world of the American West while exploring themes of resilience, redemption, and the enduring power of love. Lane's vivid descriptions are plentiful, detailed, and multisensory, transporting readers to the vast and unforgiving landscape of a harder time of living, where Mac and Ester's journey unfolded against a backdrop of adversity and danger. The palpable tension of the plot keeps you eagerly turning pages as the pace quickens and Mac’s past resurfaces, rooting for the protagonists as they face unimaginable challenges to their future happiness. There’s a keen sense of emotion in the dialogue, and it’s easy to read between the lines and explore the impending pressure on the couple, as well as their love for one another. Lane weaves together a strong biblical allegory with this compelling, emotionally charged style of storytelling, creating a narrative that feels natural, but also has a lesson that resonates long after the final chapter. Overall, Scorched Earth is a highly engaging Western drama with a lot to offer, and I’d certainly recommend it.

C.R. Hurst

The biblical story of Job is brought to life during the expansion of the American West in Donna E. Lane’s Scorched Earth: An American Western Redemption Story, the second installment in This Hallowed Ground series. Narrated by Aidan MacAlister (Mac) the story begins with his confrontation with a “Yankee snake” named Mister Murphy who threatens Mac with his knowledge that Union soldiers are planning to arrest him as a deserter and war criminal. Mac and Ester, his wife who is pregnant with their first child, then flee their Georgia home with a fortune in gold to escape the soldiers. They begin a dangerous trek across the western territory to seek refuge with the Lakota Sioux, who had adopted Mac years earlier. This epic journey tests the strength and the faith of both husband and wife. Will their love for each other and God ensure their survival?

I had not read the first installment of This Hallowed Ground but had little difficulty in following the storyline of Scorched Earth. The author is especially good at incorporating subtle clues to events in the earlier installment that are needed to understand and appreciate the backstory of the MacAlisters. I also liked her choice of first person, present tense for Mac’s narration which lends an immediacy to his telling and allows the reader to better understand the demons he battles and the questionable choices he makes during the novel. I also appreciated Donna E. Lane’s presentation of Lakota culture and spirituality. She illustrates a sensitive grasp of the trials faced by Native Americans and their leaders, such as Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse, during our country’s westward expansion. I highly recommend Donna E. Lane’s Scorched Earth for lovers of Westerns and historical Christian dramas.

Grant Leishman

Scorched Earth by Donna E. Lane is a riveting saga of survival and perseverance in the post-Civil War era, as experienced by a former Confederate soldier and his family. Mac was considered a Civil War criminal and then a deserter from the Union Army. Hiding out under an assumed name, he and his wife Ester are farming his family’s land in Georgia. When his identity is discovered, they know they must flee Georgia and the only safe place is in Montana, where Mac hopes his Lakota tribesmen are still successfully surviving despite continued harassment and the white man's broken treaties. Mac and Ester cannot travel the easily navigable routes of trains and main roads. He and his pregnant wife must negotiate the back trails and their journey will seem endless, always at risk from Union soldiers, local lawmen, and Native American marauders.

Scorched Earth is a truly fantastic read. The trials and tribulations of this little family will grab the reader’s attention right from the very first pages. Mac is essentially a good, moral man, whose love of family and his heritage is paramount to his actions. Like so many of those who are vanquished in war, retribution lies in the hands of the victors. Regardless of Mac’s actions in the Civil War and his underlying depth of anger, he is a gentle, loving husband and father, which makes him such a compelling character. To add to his depth, the time he spent as a member of the Lakota tribe, his Lakota family’s violent and horrific deaths, and the knowledge he gained in mysticism and medicine, all serve to create a fascinating character with many layers. Similarly, Ester is a wonderful foil to Mac’s impulsiveness. Her steady and unrelenting faith in her husband as well as her love and trust in people generally makes her the perfect partner to this heroic man. The writing style is deeply descriptive and takes readers into the harsh and oftentimes violent world that the characters inhabit. This is one of those stories you simply cannot stop reading until you discover what happens next. Although this is the second book, it is not necessary to have read the first, although I would highly recommend reading anything from this talented author. Donna E. Lane drops in nuggets of information to fill in the backstory of Mac and Ester’s relationship. There is a deep underlying element of faith in this rollicking Wild West adventure that adds immeasurably to the depth of the story. I highly recommend this read.