West of Santillane

Fiction - Historical - Personage
374 Pages
Reviewed on 03/19/2024
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    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

West of Santillane is a work of fiction in the historical, interpersonal drama, and sociocultural issues subgenres. The work is best suited to adult readers owing to some scenes of sex and violence. Penned by author Brook Allen, the plot follows Julia Hancock, who, yearning for adventure, finds it in her marriage to explorer William Clark. Despite her husband's fame, Julia embarks on her own journey of self-discovery, grappling with her conflicting beliefs about slavery while navigating life in St. Louis. Drawn into political intrigue and advocating for the oppressed, Julia's actions strain her relationship with William. As tensions rise, Julia faces danger and must summon the courage to confront her beliefs and protect those she loves.

Author Brook Allen has crafted an immersive reading experience that perfectly captures Julia's internal conflict and search for fulfillment against the tumultuous backdrop of early America. Julia's character is complex and relatable, grappling with moral dilemmas and societal expectations in a compelling dialogue and narrative style that tells you everything within the action rather than a lot of chunky prose. This is not to say that there aren’t also moments of poignant reflection and emotional development, and the novel is well-balanced to bring you crucial emotive twists interspersed with new hooks and surprises in the plot. Allen's vivid descriptions transport readers to the bustling streets of St. Louis and the untamed wilderness of the West. I was impressed by the atmospheric language that matched each scene to the emotional mood. The exploration of slavery and activism also prompts strong reflection on themes of justice and forgiveness as a powerful underlying message. Overall, West of Santillane is a compelling tale of love, courage, and redemption that resonates long after the final page. I highly recommend it to fans of historical fiction everywhere.