Title: Veiled in Smoke (The Windy City Saga #1)
Author: Jocelyn Green
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publishing Date: Feb 4, 2020
Publisher: Bethany House
Length: 416 Pages
About the Book:
Meg and Sylvie Townsend manage the family bookshop and care for their father, Stephen, a veteran still suffering in mind and spirit from his time as a POW during the Civil War. But when the Great Fire sweeps through Chicago’s business district, they lose much more than just their store.
The sisters become separated from their father, and after Meg burns her hands in an attempt to save a family heirloom, they make a harrowing escape from the flames with the help of Chicago Tribune reporter Nate Pierce. Once the smoke clears away, they reunite with Stephen, only to learn soon after that their family friend not only died during the fire–he was murdered. Even more shocking, Stephen is charged with the crime and committed to the Cook County Insane Asylum.
Though homeless, injured, and suddenly unemployed, Meg must not only gather the pieces of her shattered life, but prove her father’s innocence before the asylum truly drives him mad.
As someone who loves historical fiction I get excited when I discover a new read that covers less-explored history. Veiled in Smoke takes readers on a journey through the flames of the 1871 fire that swept through Chicago. As if cleaning up and rebuilding in the aftermath weren’t enough, Meg and Sylvie find themselves in a desperate battle to clear their father’s name of murder. As their world seems to be falling apart around them, the girls fight to persevere.
I was highly impressed with the character development in this story. I especially savored the mystery surrounding Stephen and his “soldiers heart” as it was called. I liked going inside his mind and getting a glimpse of the inner-conflict he was battling with. Even though his mind was playing tricks on him, he still had a good heart and loved his family and wanted to protect them. He asked God for help because he knew he couldn’t fight the battle on his own. He was an intriguing character and was far more complex than one would initially think.
Seeing as the family owned a bookstore, you can imagine the literary references that were found throughout. Classical fictional characters were talked about as if they were true friends. Their love of reading naturally oozed out wherever they went and was infectious. It makes me want to go back and read some of the classics again!
I can’t imagine losing not only my home, but my business and entire neighborhood to fire. As if it wouldn’t be bad enough in today’s world, I can’t fathom the devastation it would have been in 1871 without many of the modern conveniences we have now. I cherished the amount of real history that the author added into the narrative to give the readers a glimpse of what it was really like after the fire. I love when history and fiction weave together in such a powerful way.
I will not share any spoilers but I was pleasantly surprised that there were twists and turns woven throughout that I wasn’t expecting at all. The mystery kept me invested and the pace kept the pages turning.
I thoroughly enjoyed this read and am now waiting impatiently for the next release in the series. I love Jocelyn Green’s willingness to step out of the more commonly covered historical events to find something new to bring to readers. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next!
*I received a copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers. Thoughts and opinions expressed are mine alone.