contents // books and zines + music + kar kulture + art and design + photography + DIY + civil disobedience + assorted madness

Sunday, May 28, 2017

BOOK SPOTLIGHT & REVIEW: In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree By Michael McLellan

In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree
By Michael McLellan
Genre: Historical Fiction

Henry was born into slavery; his young life spent working in tobacco drying sheds on Missouri plantations. Freed at the onset of the Civil War, he’s alone, starving, and on the run from Confederate militiamen.

Five years later, Clara Hanfield, the daughter of a powerful New York shipping magnate, escapes her tyrannical father and travels west in pursuit of John Elliot, the man she loves. John, a U.S. Army lieutenant, was sent to the Dakota Territory where he discovers a government conspiracy to incite an all-out war with the Indians; a war meant to finally eliminate them as an obstacle to the westward expansion.

Henry finds himself caught in the middle.

Aided by Clara, John, and his native ally, Standing Elk, Henry must battle hatred, greed, and the ghosts of his past during this turbulent and troubling time in American history. 

My Review:

I've had the pleasure of reading one of Michael McLellan's previous novels entitled American Flowers so knew something about how incredible a writer he is, but was wholly unprepared for the stunning impact of reading his newest novel In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree. This a powerful, dark, arresting, and at times, terrible historical fiction story of the newly emancipated slave Henry. He finds himself freed by his 'owner' after the end of the Civil War in Missouri. It then chronicles his plight in trying to traverse an entirely hostile environment, where there are no friends and absolutely no one he can trust. Rich in historical accuracy, complex and brutal in prose, and beautifully penned, McLellan captures a time and place and brings it into stark, uncompromising, and rigid tintype focus. A breathtaking and thought-provoking novel from start to finish, wonderfully packaged! I am proud to own a print copy of this fine book and encourage others to get one, as well. You will want this in your collection. A very strong five stars!

About the Author

Michael’s love of books began with Beverly Cleary’s The Mouse and the Motorcycle when he was seven-years-old. Later influenced by the works of John Steinbeck, Harper Lee, Stephen King, and Cormac McCarthy, Michael developed his style of storytelling. A self-proclaimed blue-collar writer, he draws on his experiences and observations to bring relevant and compelling topics to life. 

Michael lives in Northern California, and when he’s not writing, he can usually be found wandering around the Sierra Nevada and Cascade mountain ranges. 

His body of work includes the 2014 novel After and Again, the 2015 novel American Flowers, and the shorts Joe Price and Anywhere But Here. 


Author’s Website:
On Facebook:
On Goodreads:
On Amazon:

The author is giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card! Enter below: 

a Rafflecopter giveaway


“Of course it’s murder, you pampered little pup,” Picton hissed, his face only inches from John’s. “You’re even more naive than I first thought you to be. Did you really believe the seventy of us were going to roam the countryside engaging Indian war parties? Frank Picton’s seventy defeats five thousand bloodthirsty braves! How poetic. You are right about one thing: we’re not fighting a war, we are inciting one. Tell me something; do you have the slightest notion of how many Washington fortunes are invested in the western expansion?
In railroads and gold mines, and telegraphs, and cattle, and other ventures beyond counting?…No? Of course you don’t. We are going to finish what Colonel Chivington so ungracefully began. After we resupply we’re riding north into Sioux country to inflame the filthy savages even further. Then, soon, perhaps by this fall, when the heathens have lashed out sufficiently against more innocents, the public outrage will be such that they will be unable to decry the army for finally crushing the red vermin once and for all.”

He sighed and released John’s arm.

“The Indian and the white man will never be able to coexist. It’s been proven, time and again. Treaties fail and only delay the inevitable outcome. This land is ours now. It was ordained by God. Mark my words, John, ten years from now the Indian warrior will be nothing more than a fireside story told to frighten disobedient children.”

Praise for In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree

“The book uniquely conveys a story about the time in history; and at the same time, it feels like it is of the time in history. Imbued with plain, straightforward language, the writing cuts to the bones of the plot. It is a pleasure to read clean prose such as McLellan’s.” - Sarah Margolis Pearce, author of The Promise of Fate

“The author sends out a strong reminder of our past. “ – Chitra I