Cover Image: All God's Children

All God's Children

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Member Reviews

Great book for fans of historical fiction/quasi western. This novel is from the perspective of two characters, Duncan Lammons an Army Ranger in Texas and Cecelia a young slave on a Virginia plantation 1820-1850s. 

The novel’s characters are well-developed, the plot engrossing.  The language was interesting because many of the words from that time period are no longer used and it was fun to learn quite a few new words. 

Thank you to @netgalley.com for providing a digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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In 1827, Duncan Lammons sets off from his home in Butler County, Kentucky, to stake out a new life in Texas,  “It He befriends another young man named Noah along the way, and after a few years the two decide to join the Texian Army to fight for the territory’s independence. Meanwhile, an enslaved black woman named Cecelia is sold several times to different cruel masters, eventually ending up in Louisiana, where she’s stolen from the man who bought her and freed by Samuel Fisk, who fought alongside Duncan in Texas. Well written and fast flowing this is an enjoyable historical novel.
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Once again Europa publishes another thought provoking book. I truly look forward to everything they publish each month because I know it will be something that will open my mind and have me enter a new world. All God's Children is one of those books. It's a story about people searching for something other than the life they are living. The three main characters are Duncan, Celia and Sam. Gwyn beautifully tells their story and you literally feel them come alive on the page. There were times when I had to put the book because I was so moved by the story. I hope this book finds many readers because it just such a special book and I promise you that you have read nothing like it. Read it!
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For me this book never felt like it was trying to say anything new. It felt like this book was just trying to re-do themes that have already been covered in much better books. I never found myself becoming fully invested in most of the characters, as their development ended up falling flat for me. The one exception is Cecelia, who is the only fully developed character in the whole novel. This book could have been so much stronger if it just focused on her.

The plot points in this novel ended up feeling so weak and undeveloped, and it was hard to believe that someone would pine so hard and for so long for someone they only had the most bare of interactions with. This all just limps along to an ending that felt like the author didn't know how he wanted his story to end.

This book had so much promise, but never ended up working for me. And I felt so cheated by the author's LGBT story choices.
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All God’s Children tracks two narratives from the 1827 up to the Civil War. Duncan is a young man from Kentucky, whose gay inclinations puts him at odds with his preacher father and his community. He seeks to find himself another life and joins up with the newly formed army to defend the new frontier of Texas. Cecilia is enslaved on a Virginia plantation. She becomes a “favorite” of the childless mistress who teaches her to read. Here she gains access to books that stiffen her resolve to run away for a new life of freedom. 

Duncan experiences the fellowship and terrors of war, fighting Indians and Mexicans. Cecilia makes harrowing escapes and learns much of what her book knowledge did not teach her. Their unifying force is Sam. He was a heroic fellow soldier who sparked a deep-seated, but unrequited love with Duncan. He was also the source of Cecilia’s rescue, although she was deeply suspicious of him. 

The first half of the book describes the separate journeys of Duncan and Cecilia. These are two people from very different backgrounds but both aiming for some kind of family, freedom from their pasts and hope for stability if not serenity. In the second half of the book, the outside world threatens and rends their worlds apart. While the first part of the book builds upon Texas history and settlement, in a more “traditional” way….the second half explores what lies beneath.

This is a story not to be missed for those seeking historical fiction that is alive with complex characters, heartbreak, action and, maybe acceptance and redemption. Highly recommended. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing this book to review.
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This book is told through two narratives, Duncan who is from Kentucky and Cecelia a black woman who is a slave in Virginia.  Duncan has ‘unnatural’ inclinations, meaning he is gay at a time when being so could be fatal.  After a series of sexual encounters with other men, his reputation begins to precede him and he moves to Texas.  He eventually joins the Texas Rangers to fight for Texas sovereignty; something he finds distracts him from his inclinations.  Until he meets Sam, who also joins the Rangers and to whom Duncan finds himself hopelessly attracted to.  Meanwhile, Cecelia has attempted to run away a number of times, each time she is caught, after she is caught the first couple of times, she is sold, eventually ending up on a cotton plantation where she stays for a number of years.  Sam is given an assignment that sends him to New Orleans where he encounters Cecelia being sold at auction, he intervenes and essentially steals her from the man who had purchased her.  They travel back to Texas and setup home on a parcel of land.  Duncan has continued fighting with the Rangers until he hears that Sam has returned and decides to confide his feelings to him.  There is a lot of violence in the book, though with all the war fighting that would be expected and I did not find any of it to be gratuitous. I found the book a little slow at times, particularly in the middle, but I was curious as to how it would end and the pages turned easily.  The ending was both sad and satisfying.  Thanks to Netgalley and the author for the ARC.
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